Tuesday, December 14, 2010

RECIPE: Auntie Patricia’s Christmas Shortbread

These old fashioned cookies are an absolute favorite at the cottage! A melt in your mouth buttery treat with a hint of maple flavoring, what sets this simple recipe apart from other shortbread is the use of brown sugar and no cornstarch. We’ve read where these are sometimes known as Cornish Shortbread, but we’ve not seen any evidence the recipe originated in Cornwall. The taste is so satisfying and hearty, It’s best not to over do the decorations with heavy icings so use candied cherries, glace fruits or a sprinkle of colored sugar instead.

What you’ll need for the cookies:
·         One pound of butter at room temperature
·         One cup of golden brown sugar (lump free if you please)
·         Four cups of flour
·         Red and green candied cherries cut into halves
·         Colored decorative sugar

Instructions for the cookies:
1.       First thing to do is to preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Then get out a good sized mixing bowl and place your butter in it.
2.       Next, cream your butter using a nice. Flat wooden spoon or if your new fangled, your electric mixer. Mind that you just cream it – don’t liquefy!
3.       Once that is done, add your brown sugar and cream it into the butter.
4.       Then slowly add the flour a bit at a time until everything is combined. (Be careful not to over work the dough or your cookies won’t be quite right.) By this time you should have a soft dough, but if you find it is too sticky, add a bit more flour. If it is a bit too soft o work, gently lay a dam tea towel over the dough and chill it for a while in your icebox or fridge.
5.       Lightly flour a large board and your most faithful rolling pin so that you can roll out your dough to an even ½ inch thickness.
6.       Cut the dough into shapes with either your best cookie cutters or the bottom of a juice glass. (Henrietta finds circle and round flower shapes work best though diamonds and stars do well too.) Gather the unused portions of dough form around the cut cookies and save them for another batch.*
7.       Cut a rectangle of parchment paper to the size of your most beloved baking sheet and fit it to lie flat. Transfer the dough cut outs to the parchment paper carefully using a thin, flat spatula. Space them about 1” apart.
8.       Gently press half a candied cherry into the center of each cookie or decorate with colored sugar as you fancy.
9.       If you find your kitchen is very warm and the dough is very soft, you can always place the tray of cookies in your freezer for a few minutes at this point, or even set them outside on a garden table (or other surface where the animals wont get to them) for a few minutes before baking them.
10.   Place the cookie tray in your preheated oven, but not for very long! They should bake until the bottoms are just ever so slightly browned on the bottom but still a bit soft and ivory white on the top. It is very easy to burn or over cook them so watch them very carefully.
11.   Remove them from the oven and let them sit still on the cookie sheet on a cool counter. After a few minutes, transfer the cookies from the sheet onto wire cooling racks and let it until completely cool.

Keep stored in a sealed, airtight container, or freeze them until you need them.

*HENRIETTA HINT: Always try to cut as many cookies at once as possible because every time you roll out the leftover dough scraps, the resulting cookie gets tougher. If you use more than one cookie sheet, you can have one being filled, one in the oven, and one cooling.

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