It’s my favorite time of year! The smell of pine intoxicating the house, Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” playing on repeat, and the fireplace crackling away, as I dip my nose into some hot chocolate (or spiked coffee =). Even the dogs get into the holiday spirit with their festive stick-on antlers. Simply put, December is awesome.
This year is even more special than most. Our toddler understands the concept of Santa, and so, my husband and I are essentially reliving our childhood. She loves talking about how Santa is going to visit her house this year, how she’s going to leave some cookies and milk for him to eat, and how he’s going to bring her reindeers, a car and a horse for Christmas. We’re also milking Santa for all he’s worth, using him as a parenting tool to get her to do what we want. “If you don’t listen, Santa won’t bring you presents this year.” Or “You don’t want to take a bath? Oh, I don’t think Santa will like that. Guess you won’t be getting that reindeer!” Don’t roll your eyes. It works and you should try it. Even if you celebrate Chanukah. The downside is that I still don’t know what we’re doing post Christmas, when Santa has come and gone.
But until then, there’s Shortbread. And I heard Shortbread are Santa’s favorite. So, here they are. THE BEST Shortbread cookies, ever. It’s just butter and sugar, some flour, more butter and sugar and that’s pretty much it. The house will smell amazing while you’re baking these and they will last about five minutes at best once they pop out of the oven. My husband eats about 10 in one sitting and my toddler four or five. They’re that good.
You can use this same recipe to make Linzer cookies, almond cookies (just add crushed almonds) and even alfajores! And if you’re a chocolate fanatic like my husband, you can make some dipping chocolate and dip a tip of the cookie – and let harden – for some variety.
I love putting these in a festive tin can once they’re done – they almost look too adorable to eat. It’s also a great gift if you’re invited over to someone’s place for dinner.
3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus course or decorating sugar for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with course/decorating sugar. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
And then proceed to do this…Enjoy!