Shortbread Snowflakes

With Christmas around the corner and families staying put, it’s beginning to look a lot like a different kind of holiday season. Lots of things are up in the air and I’m not talking flying.  Life as we knew it is a little blurry right now.  I’m trying to look at the positive, but with so many small businesses getting shut down again and struggling to survive, it can become dispiriting. “This won’t last forever,” encouraging as it sounds…is not soon enough.  We should help to save lives while also saving livelihoods. We have to take care of ourselves the best we can.  Little things here and there help to uplift our spirits. 

So I’ve made cookies.  Lots of cookies.  Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Old Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin with Indian spices, Thumbprint with Jam, Peanut Butter/Chocolate Chunk and finally holiday shortbread.  The one with the least amount of ingredients and the most challenging. 

This one is a Martha Stewart original.  The only thing I’ve changed is instead of using granulated sugar I’ve substituted with organic cane sugar.  They’re really yummy.  My added touches: some are cut out round and sprinkled with chili cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar.  Or; should you decide to melt chocolate, you can dip half the cookies in the chocolate, as shown.

Shortbread Cookies with Cardamom

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground *cardamom

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar (original recipe calls for using granulated).

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Whisk flour, salt & cardamom in a medium bowl.

Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Mix in Vanilla.

Reduce to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture.

Press the dough into a 10” x 15” rimmed baking sheet on top of parchment paper. (the recipe doesn’t call for this but this way turns out being a lot easier to work with the cookie dough).

Press parchment paper onto surface and smooth top.  Remove top parchment; wrap sheet in plastic.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.  This will help the dough become harder and therefore easier to cut into cookie shapes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using snowflake (and other) cookie shape cutters, cut out cookies, and arrange by size on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sanding (icing) sugar.  Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Let cool on sheets on wire rack.

You can freeze what you don’t immediately eat.  I freeze all my cookies.  Once thawed they’re as good as new.  Enjoy!

*Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. Cardamom pods are spindle-shaped and have a triangular cross-section. The pods contain a number of seeds, but the entire cardamom pod can be used whole or ground. The seeds are small and black, while the pods differ in color and size by species.

Simply Satisfying – Chocolate Dipped Orange Shortbread

 You can get creative with all your cookie-making at Christmas but don’t leave out the shortbread.  It may be too late for this Christmas but the results are worth it.  If you don’t have time,  file it for next year.   

Dish from ClayZone
Dish from ClayZone

I love cookies anytime.   My baking favorites are thumbprint (with homemade jam centre), writer’s block (oatmeal, raisins & chai spices), chocolate chip (using 4 different kinds) and old-fashioned peanut butter.

A friend gave me this recipe (originally from Canadian Living) which is perked up with orange rind and partially dipped in chocolate.  What can be better than orange & chocolate?

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup (125 ml) superfine sugar (like castor but I ended up using organic cane)

2 tsp (10 ml) finely grated orange rind

¼ (1 ml) tsp salt

2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp. (45 ml) cornstarch

3 ½ oz (100 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, orange rind and salt until fluffy.  Stir in flour and cornstarch to make a smooth dough.

Divide dough in half.  Form each into 10-inch (25 cm) log.  Wrap each and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Slice logs into ¼ inch (6 mm) thick rounds.  Place, 1-inch (2.5 cm) apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake in 325 F oven until firm, about 15 minutes.  Let cool on pans for 5 minutes, transfer to racks and let cool completely.

Coating:  In heatproof bowl over sauce of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate, let cool to room temperature.  Tip: I put the chocolate in a small pot placed right in a steamer which lets it gently melt without burning.  Try to use the best quality bulk chocolate you can find.  I use Callebaut.

Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, gently shaking off any excess.  Refrigerate on waxed paper-lined baking sheets until firm, about 30 minutes.  Makes about 30-35 cookies.

Simple & Satisfying – Put your print on a Christmas Cookie

thumbprint cookies 1

 Thumb Print Cookies

 These cookies are one of the easiest to make and everyone loves them.  They have a buttery shortbread like consistency and as cookies go….well they’re kind of a healthier version using walnuts which are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids.  The combination of walnuts and jelly are rich and they just melt in your mouth.

Recipe:

1 Cup Butter

1 tsp. Vanilla

2 Eggs, separated

½ tsp. sea salt

2 cups of sifted flour

1 cup of walnuts, finely chopped in blender or food processor

½ cup of brown sugar

Any kind of jelly (raspberry, blackcurrant, etc.)  Use jam if you don’t have jelly

Assembling:  Cream butter with sugar and yolks, then add flour, vanilla and salt.             Roll into tiny balls.

Slightly beat egg whites and dip the balls in them, Then roll in finely chopped nuts.  Here’s the fun part: make a thumbprint indent on each cookie.  Bake on a greased sheet at 325 until done, about 10 minutes.  When cooled, top with jelly in the indent.

You can always sprinkle a little sanding sugar over top to make them more Christmasy.  Enjoy!thumbprint2