Christmas is a time of family, fun, and food. And by food, I mean all those wonderful baked goodies that are miraculously calorie-free during this one very special time of the year. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!)
Growing up, one of the special treats I looked forward to every year was my grandmother’s shortbread. We would go to my grandparents’ house every year for Christmas, meet up with the cousins, play card games and board games, and eat the goodies strategically placed around the house. I always hunted down the shortbread. It was usually kept in a pink glass dish in the sitting room. The cookies looked very plain an unassuming. No colorful frosting or decorations. No fancy shapes. Just strips about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long. They were a little dry, but oh so sweet and tasty. I quickly became addicted.
A couple years ago, I finally decided to try to make some shortbread of my own for Christmas. I found a recipe on the Food Network, and dressed them up a little bit with cookie-cutter shapes and a dash of chocolate. I tasted the first batch, and all those memories of Christmases past came flooding back. I quickly indoctrinated my children into the tradition as well.
This past weekend, I broke out the flour, butter, and sugar and brought the memories alive once again. We’ve already eaten far too many, but I have it on good authority that the Christmas calorie fairy is at work, so I think we’re in good shape.
What are your favorite Christmas goodies?
3/4 pound (1 1/2 cups) butter softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
6-7 oz semisweet chocolate
Mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla and mix again. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture until dough forms. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk, about 1-inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes, until firm but still pliable.
Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut with a 3-by-1-inch finger-shaped cutter (or other more Christmasy shape). Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet. (I like to use parchment paper so there is no sticking. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
When cool, set cookies on parchment paper. Put chocolate in a glass bowl (I use chocolate chips) and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Stir until completely smooth. Drizzle or dip 1/2 of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it. (I used the wooden spoon to apply the chocolate.) Place the cookie back on the parchment-lined baking sheet and let stand at room temperature until the chocolate has firmed up, about 20 minutes.