In case you ran out of Christmas cookies before Christmas (what? it was only me?) you will have a perfect reason for making more. I took the opportunity to make–for the first time– a family recipe passed on to me by my friend Marilyn. Her short bread (and her mincemeat tarts) are now almost as highly anticipated as my own mom’s cookies (almost! I said almost mam!)
Marilyn’s daughter Emma, also a good friend has posted the recipe on her very fun blog Strolling the City in Heels, where you can learn a little more about their family tradition. I am posting the step-by-step picture version for my friends who say they “don’t bake” to give them reason to take a crack at bringing joy to their cookie jar. (Get a cookie jar people). And BTW while on Emma’s blog, also check out Marilyn’s Tourtiere recipe.
You only need three ingredients starting with 1 pd salted butter at room temperature. (I only had unsalted butter so added 1/4 tsp salt per stick of butter for a total of 1 teaspoon salt)
Brown sugar, packed 3/4 cup.
And then the recipe says, “4 heaping cups flour”. Which makes perfect sense to anyone who has made the recipe a million times. But I wasn’t sure if it meant scoop the flour (which packs it more) or fill the cup with a spoon. So I filled the cup with a scoop and let it heap a bit.
Then I weighed the flour for future reference. (I used 650g of all-purpose flour for anyone who has a scale and is anal like me.)
Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar.
Step 2: Add the flour and combine well. I started with a wooden spoon but finished (as the recipe says) with my hands. Be really careful to get all the flour integrated well (really get your hands in there!) with the butter/sugar so there are not white streaks in the dough–or (as happened to me) when you roll it out parts of the dough will not stick together.
Step 3: The recipe then says you pat the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. Use the base of your hand to flatten for a smooth surface (if you use your finger tips the dough will have many indents). I finished off with a quick pass with the rolling-pin (cheater–I know!) and rolled in a couple batches.
Also–my dough was about 3/4 thick which in my mind’s memory is the thickness of Marilyn’s cookies.
Step 4: Now have a grand old-time cutting out your cookies. All my cookie cutters stuck to Marilyn’s original size (or slightly under) about 2-3 inches.
Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Prick the uncooked shapes with a fork and sprinkle with white or coloured sugar.
Step 5: Preheat the oven to 300.
Bake for 20 minutes or til golden (says the recipe). But mine baked for 40 minutes until they were golden-which seems strange–maybe just my oven? But they turned out delicious and not burnt at all. So, check them at 20 minutes and add 5 minutes at a time.
COOL COMPLETELY and devour.
The Original Recipe (my notes are above)
4 heaping cups all purpose flour
1 pound salted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
Cream butter and sugar together. Add flour, mixing in thoroughly with your hands.
Pat dough out to about 1/2” thick. Cut cookies with cutters. Prick each cookie with a fork and dust with coloured sugar.
Bake at 300 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool thoroughly on racks
PS Just imagine the cookie cutter potential—hearts for Valentines Day, Beer mugs for St. Patricks Day, Dollar Signs for when the US falls off the Fiscal Cliff…..