A life-long love of shortbread cookies has meant many variations in my kitchen over the years but at Christmas time I always return to the simple recipe I loved as a child.
I have indeed had a life long love of shortbread cookies as the number of variations of this all time favourite on Rock Recipes can pay witness. I’ve often said that sometimes simple is best and that is particularly true in the case of shortbread cookies.
With their tender, crisp, crumbly texture and buttery sweet flavour, they need nothing more to make them totally satisfying, except maybe a cup of hot tea. I was quite partial to a tall glass of cold milk with these as a child and still am on occasion.
During the Holidays, all the women in our extended family and friends made shortbread cookies as part of their Christmas baking routine. Some kids gravitated to other more decadent cookies in the Christmas offerings but I always enjoyed eating around the bright red cherry or sometimes gumdrop at the center of a shortbread cookie and saving the sweet morsel in the middle as the final bite.
This recipe is a slight variation in method on Nanny Mildred Ralph’s recipe, who was my Uncle Bill’s Mom, and a great baker like so many Newfoundland women of her generation. I’ve added a little real vanilla to the dough for additional flavour and glacé cherries to the center instead of maraschinos as she did.
You can use whichever you like or substitute baking gums as I just mentioned. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without some Holiday Shortbread Cookies.
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- 2 cups butter at room temperature 1 pound
- 1 cup icing sugar powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 3 cups flour
- Maraschino cherries or baking gums for the centers . optional
Cream together the butter and icing sugar very well until very smooth and creamy. No lumps of butter should be visible.
Blend in the vanilla extract.
Sift together the flour and corn starch.
Blend slowly into the creamed mixture until a soft dough forms.
Split dough into 2 equal round portions.
Wrap the dough rounds in plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours at least.
You can freeze one of the cookie dough portions for later if you like.
This dough will also last in the fridge for 3-4 days so that you can bake a few up at a time and enjoy them fresh from the oven if you like.
To bake the cookies preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out to a little less than 1/4 of an inch on a lightly floured surface. Use a 2 inch cookie cutter (or holiday shaped cookie cutters) to cut out the cookies.
Place the cookies on the parchment paper a half inch apart. Add a half maraschino or glacé cherry to the center, or a baking gumdrop if you like.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until they just start to turn brown at the edges.
Let cool for 10 minutes on the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
These cookies will freeze quite well for several weeks.
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