Southerners like to show off their baking skills. The more elaborate the dessert, the better. Why make a three-layer cake when you can make an 18-layer cake? When there are dozens upon dozens of desserts on the church potluck table, you want your contribution to stand out.
But Southerners also pride themselves on being able to throw together a recipe at a moment’s notice—like when no one told you about the school bake sale, or Aunt Martha swings by for a impromptu visit, or the neighbors invite you over for a last-minute barbecue. In these situations, Southerners shine with their MacGyver-like ability to make something quick and delicious out of next to nothing—or, better yet, something stashed away in the freezer for that precise “Help! What am I going to make?” moment. (Or when you get a serious craving for cookies that cannot be cured with the store-bought kind.)
Which is why Southern bakers love slice-and-bake cookies. They’re not flashy like a layer cake, or as tempting as a pie, but they are a lifesaver when you are in desperate need of dessert. Any six-year-old who can handle a spatula and a mixing bowl can make a batch of these simple cookies from scratch with basic ingredients you probably have on hand. And you can flavor them just about any way you like—from classic shortbread to Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Cookies to Lemon-Rosemary Slice and Bakes.
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But if you’re really smart, you’ll do as our test kitchen pro Deb Wise does, and make an extra batch of dough to freeze. Slice-and-bake dough freezes beautifully and will make you look like you pulled off a magic trick when you show up to that spur-of-the-moment party with a tray of freshly baked cookies.