The Christmas baking, batch by batch-day by day, is well under way. It’s never an option to pare down the list of items to bake either, for fear that someone may throw a hissy fit if their favourite treat isn’t fully stocked in tins. Melt in your mouth shortbread is always on the list, and lately I have been playing with the shortbread recipe my family has been using since 1986 (according to some chef notes). Variations on buttery, light shortbread include rosemary, lavender and candied ginger. Even something as simple as orange zest can transform your shortbread aroma and flavour ten-fold. I use both a clay cookie stamp and a cookie press to make little flowers. Unbelievably easy, the addictive results mean they don’t last for long.
1 cup butter
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup cornstarch
1 ½ cups flour
Preheat oven to 300°F. Using an electric beater, whip room temperature butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Continue to beat on low speed while gradually adding cornstarch and flour. Roll into balls and press with a cookie stamp, or gear up your cookie press if you have one. Bake for 20 minutes (cookies should be a light golden brown, don’t over bake). Transfer to rack immediately.
For candied ginger shortbread I use ½ cup dark brown sugar in place of icing sugar. While whipping the butter and sugar add ½ tsp of ground ginger. Once the dough is prepared, fold in ¾ cup minced crystallized ginger.
Or follow the basic recipe and fold in minced fresh rosemary or dried, food-grade lavender at the end for a real treat!