I’ve said a few times on this blog that a certain recipe is my favourite. I guess I have trouble making up my mind, especially when it comes to cookies.
But, if I had to pick a cookie I can’t get through Christmas without making, these classic shortbreads would be them.
In addition to be an absolute melt-in-your-mouth, buttery cookie, these shortbreads are very close to my heart.
My grandmother always made shortbread cookies. So does my mom. They’re essential.
A few Christmases ago my mom had the incredible idea to write down some family recipes in a notebook for me. She asked my grandmother to do the same. This book is the most special thing I own. Once, the hallway of our building was exceptionally warm, with an odd chemical smell in the air. C. and I were worried there might be a fire on our floor. I went straight to my bookshelf and tucked this book into my bag – just in case.
My grandmother has Alzheimer’s and she wrote the same shortbread recipe in a few times. It only makes me love this recipe more because, for her, it kept coming up as one she wanted to share. It makes me a bit teary just thinking about it.
These cookies are a labour of love, but the result is so worth it. These cookies are not too sweet, but they dissolve into buttery, creaminess when you take a bite. Instead of vanilla, we’ve always paired them with an almond buttercream. It complements the cookie base so well and I can’t imagine making them any other way. Of course, if you don’t like almond or have an allergy, you can certainly opt for vanilla.
They aren’t complicated, but a batch this big can be time-consuming. This recipe makes about six dozen cookies, depending on the size you’re cutting. For the cookie base, you only need four ingredients. The frosting is a simple buttercream.
The benefit of such a big batch? More to share (or devour by yourself like a hungry Christmas bear).
I’d love to hear your most treasured recipe in the comments.
Christmas shortbread cookies
Makes 6 dozen small cookies
- One pound (block or four sticks) of butter
- Two cups of flour
- Two cups of corn starch
- One cup of icing sugar
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp almond extract (more to taste)
- 2 1/2 cups of icing sugar (more depending on how stiff you like your frosting)
- Remove butter from the fridge about two hours before you intend on cooking with it. Or, warm it in the microwave for 15 seconds. Cream the butter using a stand or handheld mixer until fluffy.
- Add one cup of flour and one cup of corn starch. Mix. Add sugar and remaining cups of flour and corn starch. Stir again. Once the dough comes together, stop mixing right away.
- Preheat your oven to 325ºF. Lightly dust a clean baking surface and your rolling pin with flour. In three sections, take the dough out and roll it until flat, about as thick as a standard magazine. Use your favourite cookie cutters to make shapes.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment and bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until they are just the faintest bit beige around the outside. They will still look white on top. Turning them over will reveal a beige, not brown, bottom. Cool on a wire rack when done.
- Prepare your frosting by creaming butter, then adding 1 cup of icing sugar. Mix again. Then add milk, almond extract and remaining sugar. Mix until creamy. Mine was creamy enough to pipe with a piping bag, but not runny at all. You can pipe or spread with a spoon. Dip into sprinkles when done. Store in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to two weeks.