There might not be an easier cookie for changing, dressing up or down, or adding to than a basic shortbread cookie. When it’s Christmas and I need a new cookie, I often give shortbread the nod for just that reason — and because I love it so. What’s not to love? There are few (5) ingredients that go together with no special work or instructions. Chilling time? Sure, but it’s 30 minutes compared to 2 hours for sugar cookies. And shortbread can taste better than sugar cookies, can’t it? Of course it can and it’s perfect with a wee dram some chilly dark night, in case you didn’t know. And thank God it’s getting chilly again.
This week, needing a last cookie to round out a cookie tray for a Friday-night party, I thought I’d make one of my favorite shortbreads. But which one was it? Lemon came to mind, but I’ve only ever done lemon shortbread bars. A fluted cookie sounded right and I knew just the recipe to grab, wrestle with briefly, and know I’d come out with a top-shelf Lemon Shortbread Cookie. I added the word “Barely” to the title as it’s not overly lemon-y. Just enough to still love the shortbread all the while feeling quite happy from the little lemon buzz. Is there anything better than lemon and butter?
There’s no doubt it’s a blog record to post three cranberry recipes in a row and I promise you it not only wasn’t planned, I had little idea it had happened until this morning. Perhaps cranberries were on the brain, on sale, or in my heart, but I don’t think so though I adore them unabashedly. Just an oh-so-odd coincidence. Right then.
More Time will be on vacation for a short time. When I’ve cooked a bunch more, I’ll be back! In the meantime, make my Sparkly cookies. Make merry, friends!
Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars
This not-too-sweet, pie crust-like, melt in your mouth gem is actually a tiny, fluted piece of shortbread showered in white sanding sugar. Regular old white sugar will work just as well, as would bright red cookie sugar from the grocery store. The white sanding sugar, however, gives the cookies a sheen and a sophisticated sparkle unlike any other. It yells, “I‘m special.”
While other cookies try and steal the show with great globs of frosting or hunks of high-quality chocolate, this cookie (tiny, but mighty) shows strength and endurance because after you put out a big bowl of them, folks will just keep nipping in until they’re gone. One isn’t enough. Especially with hot tea… or a little snifter of brandy. Try this:
Mix together together the butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until just combined. Add vanilla. Sift the flour and salt and add it to the butter an d sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and shape into a flat disc. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F.
Roll dough out 1/4″ thick on a floured surface and cut with 1 – 1.5″ fluted cookie/biscuit cutter. Sprinkle each cookie with a little white sanding sugar and, using one finger, press sugar very lightly into each cookie. Bake on an ungreased sheet for about 10 minutes–until edges show the faintest signs of gold. Let cool to room temperature.
The original recipe for this shortbread is from Ina Garten and she got it from Eli Zabar. I make a couple of other cookies out of this same dough–actually I make hundreds of other cookies out of it!…While the dough operates similarly to sugar cookies, it only has to chill 30 minutes and the taste and texture are intensely better…unless, of course, you make your grandma’s sugar cookies–in which case, I know they’re much better. Really.