TASTE BUDS

Shortbread makes good Christmas or New Year’s cookies

Posted Dec. 20, 2011, at 5:28 p.m.

Of course you need another cookie recipe, don’t you? I’ve used this recipe since 1970 for Christmas cookies because I prefer a buttery shortbread over a plain sugar cookie, and because it is a simple recipe with only three ingredients.

If you make the full recipe, you end up with wads and wads of cookies, perfect for a large gathering or to give away, if you can bear to part with any. They keep beautifully in a tin and don’t need to be frozen, so you can even cut some out in a non-Christmas design and serve them on New Year’s.

I do holly leaves and trees for Christmas and suns and crescent moons for New Year’s.

Even though I am a believer in using my personal calories to cook — for example, beating by hand — for this recipe, I pull out the mixer and let it whale away at the butter, sugar and flour. Sometimes life is too short to spend it mixing dough. It takes real effort to get that five cups of flour mixed into the butter and sugar.

You can hold the dough in the refrigerator for a couple days if you need to, before rolling and cutting it. Let it come back up to room temperature before working with it. If you glaze the cookies with beaten egg white before you add the colored sugar, they look very elegant but I forgot to do that this year.

The only pesky thing about the recipe is that the dough can be a bit crumbly. You need to work with it in just enough warmth that when you roll it, it doesn’t crack. Be prepared to roll out small portions at time. Then gather up the fragments and use the warmth of your hand to meld them together again into a smooth ball.

Actually, there is another pesky thing about the recipe. They are so delicious that unless you stash them away out of sight, by the time you want some to serve, the supply may be annoyingly eroded by spouses, housemates and young relatives. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Happy, happy Christmas to you all.

Shortbread Cookies

5 cups flour

1 pound (4 sticks) butter

1 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed

1 lightly beaten egg white or cream for glaze

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cream the sugar and butter together well. Add the flour gradually, beating after each addition. Roll out to slightly less than a quarter of an inch on a lightly floured board with a lightly floured rolling pin. Cut into desired shapes and place close together on the baking sheet. (They do not spread.) Brush on glaze and decorate. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool.

Makes dozens, depending on cookie size.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848, email sandyoliver47@gmail.com. For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

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