When I think of the coming holiday season, the first thing that pops into my head, after Santa, singing carols, and preventing the cats from the climbing the Christmas tree, is cookies. Cookies, plural, because I have many favourites. Yes, I know the definition of the word favourite suggests a singular thing, but saying I have one favourite cookie would be like saying I have one favourite child, or one favourite candy bar. Don’t get me started about my sweaters!
So, back to the cookies.
When I was a little girl, there were three traditional kitchen activities that told me Christmas was getting close. The first, in early November, was when my mum baked the fruitcake. Don’t scoff, it’s delicious. The cake would then be “fed” with regular doses of rum (or whisky), wrapped well, and allowed to mature in the cool basement.
The second clue that Santa would soon be leaving the North Pole was when Mum cooked her mincemeat. Again, don’t scoff. This isn’t the sickly sweet stuff in jars from the grocery store. This is real ground beef and apples and oranges and raisins and spices that’s simmered for hours – delicious! And full of fruit and protein so there’s nothing at all wrong with stealing spoonfuls – several times a day.
The third clue that gift-giving was imminent was when Mum baked shortbread cookies, cut in festive shapes like stars, bells and trees, and sprinkled with red and green coloured sugar. Tender and buttery with a hint of vanilla, they were and are always part of the dessert tray during the holidays, along with slices of that moist, slightly boozy fruitcake, and little mincemeat tarts.
I’m sharing the recipe for shortbread cookies with you today, and hope you have a festive season filled with good friends, good food, and good cheer!
Grammy's Shortbread Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup icing sugar
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 300F and place rack in centre of oven. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix well.
In bowl of stand mixer (or large bowl and using a hand mixer) cream butter until fluffy. Beat in icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until dough forms a ball. Working with half of the dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface to approximately ¼ inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and carefully transfer them to prepared baking sheet, spacing an inch apart. Sprinkle with coloured sugar if desired and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until slightly puffy but not browned. Allow to cool on pan for a few minutes then transfer to rack to cool completely.
Gather up scraps being super careful to not incorporate extra flour. Knead into a smooth ball and repeat. Repeat with remaining dough.
Makes approximately 30 cookies depending on the size of the cookie cutter.
Do you have a special cookie recipe that’s baked only during the holidays? One that brings back treasured memories from your childhood?
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If you’re in the mood for a Victorian Christmas tale set in Cornwall, check out…
If Wishes Were Earls
When a mysterious note directs Miss Miranda Large to a tiny village in Cornwall to find her heart's desire, she has no choice but to go. An enchanted keepsake heightens her curiosity. A snowstorm forces her to accept the hospitality of a sullen, albeit sexy and handsome, earl and Miranda's wish doesn't seem so out of reach.
Edward Penhallion, the 12th Earl of Claverlock, is not in the mood to start his search for a new wife. He wants to be left alone with his books and his dreams of revenge. But the arrival of a headstrong, sharp-tongued spinster forces him to play the charming host. Not a difficult task, given her intelligence and beauty. Suddenly, he’s not terribly eager for her to leave.
But as the snow falls and the winds blow, Edward discovers there’s more to Miranda than a lively wit and a lovely face. And Miranda wonders if the trappings of wealth are enough for true happiness.
Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother's stash of romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after. Luanna writes full time, concentrating on sexy romantic suspense, steamy paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna has recently returned to the land of her birth with her dear husband and two spoiled cats. When she's not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious.