Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shortbread Cookie Cut Outs

It is on days like this I want to be snuggled in my home where it is warm and I can hear the wind calling from outside. I can sit inside at the kitchen table and watch the TV tuned to the Food Network. I can watch them baking cookies and know that mine are better. But for many years I did not think I could use a rolling pin. It never failed that my cookies would stick or break apart or be to cold to roll out. Until… I found this recipe. It works. And these are good tasting cookies.

No cookies, but at least there was pumpkin!
You can eat them as is. No decorating but some consider that the fun part. You could roll them in a log, slice them and then glaze them if you want. Or not. It is a fairly traditional shortbread and I love shortbread. You could pat them into a round about ½” thick and use a fork to prick the round into sections. These would be called petticoat tails.

Shortbread is traditionally made with one part sugar, two parts butter and 3 parts flour. They have a crumbly texture but do firm up after cooling. The name shortbread is derived from the word shortening and hence evolved into shortbread. They come from Scotland, where they are a classic Scottish dessert and were refined by Mary, Queen of Scots. In Scotland it is traditional to eat these on New Years Eve which derived from the custom of eating Yule cakes in the 1200’s.

I know the neighbors will like these.
 I have made these for years and in our home they are known as Hanukah cookies. My daughter just called for the recipe. I feel obliged to give it to her as she helped me for many moons to decorate them. Of course she didn’t sweep the sugar off the floor but that’s OK. It’s comforting to know that a tradition is passing on. One that apparently has survived for hundreds of years. Yes, it is a damn good cookie. And call them whatever you want. You will find yourself baking them for a long time.

Shortbread Cut Outs (Courtesy of Silver Palate) 

¾ lb sweet butter softened (three sticks) If your butter is really chilled each stick can be put in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften it.
1c confectioners sugar
3c unbleached all purpose flour
½ t salt (If you have salted butter you may not want to add salt)
½ t vanilla

Cream butter and confectioners sugar together until light.
Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla and blend well.
Gather dough into ball or make two logs, and wrap in saran wrap or wax paper. Chill in fridge for 4-6 hours.
Roll out chilled dough to 3/8” thickness on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. I make thinner cut outs but it depends how many cookies you want. Cut out cookies with your favorite cookie cutter. If you are not icing these sprinkle them with granulated sugar. Place cut out cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and refrigerate for 45 minutes before baking.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on how thick you made your cookies. They should be light colored and not brown at all. Makes at least 3 dozen.

Royal Icing
1 egg white (preferably pasteurized)
1c confectioners sugar
1t vanilla

Blend with a little whisk in a small bowl. You should not have any lumps. It helps to sift your sugar or to stir it well with a fork. You may dye this or leave it as is. I usually leave it white and then frost each cookie one at a time, dipping into the colored sugars as I go.
These are cookies that taste good. They are easy to roll out. And they are oh so pretty!

See they are Hanukah Cookies.

Someone woke up with a bedhead.

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  1. Good picture — nice color palette on the decorations. Shortbread is such good stuff, isn't it? We sometimes decorate, but often don't. I hope in the recipe you gave you daughter you included the step for sweeping the floor. ;-) Good stuff — thanks.

  2. Thank you! And I'm not sure she'd appreciate your humor though I sure do!

  3. These look amazing! Great colours :)

  4. Thanks, Natalie! They taste great, too!