My mother rarely baked, but I can’t imagine the holidays without her buttery shortbread cookies. Once a year she’d dust off her aluminum cookie press, a contraption that extracted perfectly uniform cookies. She topped each shortbread with a single neon-red candied cherry (near toxic by today’s standards).
I stamp out my shortbread with a ravioli cutter and decorate the cookies with pistachio nuts and dried cranberries affixed with a smudge of white chocolate. However you shape or decorate your cookies, the secret to melt-in-the-mouth shortbread is to bake them in a low oven and remove them before they take on any colour.
Makes About Five Dozen 1.5” Cookies
■ 1 pound unsalted butter
■ 1 cup powdered (icing) sugar
■ 1/2 tsp salt
■ 1/2 tsp baking powder
■ 4 cups all-purpose flour
■ 2 Tbsp white chocolate, melted
■ 1/4 cup unsalted pistachio nuts, chopped
■ 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
■ Ravioli or cookie cutter or cookie press
Preheat oven to 300°F.
In a standup mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add the salt and baking powder and mix to combine. Add the flour, one cup at a time, and mix until a soft dough forms.
Place the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin, flatten the dough (through the plastic wrap) into a disk about half an inch thick. Refrigerate at least 40 minutes.
Stamp-out the chilled dough with a cookie cutter or ravioli mold and place onto a parchment-lined baking tray.
Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once, until the cookies are firm but not yet browned. The underside of the cookies should be barely golden. (I lift a cookie with a small metal spatula to determine the colour.) Cool on a wire rack.
If desired, dab cookies with a bit of melted white chocolate and top with a pinch of nuts or dried cranberries.
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