I'll never turn down a cookie of any type, but shortbread cookies rank really high on my cookie-ometer.
And shortbread with dark chocolate? Off the charts.
Shortbread cookies are delicious even without any adornment, but dress them up with a few sparkles, and they are ready for any New Year's Eve party.
Dress me up with a few sparkles, and I'm ready for New Year's Eve, too.
I find shortbread dough easier to work with than sugar cookie dough. It's not sticky, so they cut easily, and practically fall right out of the cookie cutters.
This is important: Before they go into the oven, the cookies need to be refrigerated for at least 20 minutes.
Bake them until they are just golden around the edges, and bottom. They should look like this when they're done:
The cookies are so tasty on their own, that I don't like to overwhelm them with a lot of toppings. My favorite way is to just drizzle a little dark chocolate on them.
New Year's Eve calls for a little bling, so I added some red sugar, and a few sprinkles of Williams-Sonoma's Gold Shimmering Sugar.
They are really easy to make -- don't let the long list of instructions below from Fine Cooking put you off. They're just very explicit, which I happen to like.
FYI, I baked both cookie sheets at the same time, and they were done in about 1/2 hour. If you bake one cookie sheet at a time, make sure you keep an eye on them, and check them much sooner.
CLASSIC SHORTBREAD COOKIES
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
Yields about 3 1/2 - 4 dozen 2-inch cookies.
8 ounces (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl (use the paddle attachment) or a large mixing bowl.
Mix on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn't perfectly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the flour and mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently. Mix on low until the dough has just about pulled together, about 3 minutes; don't overmix.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, to about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for uniform thickness to ensure even baking.
Use a cookie cutter and cut out shapes as close to one another as possible. Press the scraps together, roll them out, and cut out more cookies. If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate it briefly.
Arrange the cookies on two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 minutes.
Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F.
Bake the cookies until golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
After 15 minutes, swap the position of the baking sheets and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking.
If the cookies are done before 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 275°F for the remaining batches; if they take longer than one hour, increase the temperature to 325°.
For the chocolate, I use Baker's Semi-Sweet Dipping Chocolate, which is melted in the microwave. I drizzled it on the cookies with a spoon, in a back and forth pattern.
One little word of caution -- handle the cookies gently, because once the chocolate hardens it breaks off easily. Then again, you probably won't be manhandling them for a photo shoot, but be careful anyway.
Enjoy, and have a Happy and Healthy New Year!
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