Christmas · What's Cooking in Leabeth's Kitchen

The modest shortbread cookie.

Shortbread Christmas Cookie

A modest cookie of sorts. From first glance of the shortbread cookie, you may not expect its palate pleasing qualities. Buttery, sweet like a song on Christmas morning, and delicate, if you’re eating the right shortbread cookie that is. To those eating crunchy, dry shortbread cookies. My heart goes out to you.

The shortbread cookie is one of the first things I learned to bake. I started my baking experience with cornbread, because who doesn’t want cornbread with dinner? And what father and mother would refuse their 10-year-old daughter for asking to make it? Back to the shortbread. I was taught, “don’t over mix”. This will cause the shortbread to lose its delicacy and will also make a very melty buttery mess in your hands. I grew up in Clearwater, Florida where butter never lasted long in one’s hands.  I would gradually combine all ingredients, all three of them: butter, sugar, flour, and then knead the crumbly dough gently in to a ball. Then, after smooshing it in to a square pan, I would poke holes all over the dough. You can get creative here, you can poke some funny stripe pattern, or spell out your name, but you want there to be a lot of holes. This holds the dough back from rising up, it lets out the steam. Then you put them in the oven, and wait, patiently, and with a watchful eye. Hard for a 10-year-old girl who loves cookies to do.

Shortbread cookies deserve a level of respect when it comes to the actual baking process. You don’t set-em and forget-em like some of those “other” cookies. These lovelies need to be pulled out before everything gets all brown and crispy on the sides. But, right before! You want a very light, light brown, we call it blonde in the cooking world. It’s a level above golden on the brown-ness scale. Anyhow, once you take them out, cut them in to whatever bar shape you so choose. This would also be the time to dust them with a little powdered sugar, if you’re in to that kind of thing. Let the cookies set for about eight minutes, because I can never wait the full ten, and enjoy!!

I particularly love shortbread cookies around the holidays. It’s such a simple cookie that it is loved by all and can transformed in to a really great gift. You can jazz them up in a number of ways. My personal preference is to dip them in melted chocolate or drizzle chocolate across them diagonally. You can cut them in to festive holiday shapes before baking too. Just roll out the dough and act quickly when cutting. Remember the melty buttery mess possibility. If you do choose to cut your shortbread cookies in to shapes, I would advise you bake the last remainder of the dough in a whole piece and cut it in to bars when it is done baking. The more you roll out the cookies and cut them, the less delicate they become. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I hope this post inspired you to bake some of these tasty cookies, or anything for that matter. Baking is love.

I use the Shortbread Cookie recipe out of my Joy of Cooking Cookbook, it hasn’t failed me yet.

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