Traditional Shortbread Cutouts ~ Four Variations

For my last post before Christmas, I thought I would stick with a classic – shortbread. But, finding a ‘perfect’ shortbread recipe is actually quite tricky. There is the traditional Scottish variety that comes in bars or wedges, brown sugar shortbread, whipped shortbread, some with rice flour or corn starch, and some that even call for the butter to be cold and crumbled as you would do with pastry. What’s your go-to recipe?

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As my butter was already soft, I opted to use a recipe out of The Canadian Living Christmas Book called Simply the Best Shortbread (it had to be good, right?). What drew me to this recipe is that you don’t chill the dough before rolling it out, but rather roll out the room-temperature dough, cut out your shapes, and then freeze them before baking. What’s great is that you can keep the frozen unbaked cookies in a sealed bag for 2 weeks, which allowed me to bake half yesterday, and I’ll bake the rest when we’ve run out.

A single batch makes around 20 cookies, depending on your cookie-cutter size, but I doubled the batch (actually, I made two single batches separately to save my wrist) so that I could make four different variations.

These are buttery and fairly crisp due to the slow and low baking. The variations I made are: Classic, Lime, Cranberry and Almond, and Double Chocolate Cherry. I also made some mini-cutouts with the extra dough which are perfect small treats for humans and the glutton dog, Watson, who MUST have a cookie with tea or a snit will follow #spoileddog.

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Ingredients (for 1 batch):

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups flour

Instructions:

In a large bowl, beat the butter until fluffy with an electric mixer. Gradually add in the cornstarch, then the sugar. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the flour 1/4 cup at a time. Use your hands to incorporate the dough completely.

Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thick on a floured surface and cut out shapes. Place the cutouts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put in the freezer.

Bake from frozen at 275F for 40-50 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Cool on wire racks.

Classic Shortbread:

Leave the recipe as it is and top with halved glacé cherries after baking.

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Lime Shortbread:

Add 1 tsp. grated lime zest to the dough and incorporate before rolling out and cutting your shapes. You could also try lemon or orange zest!

Cranberry and Almond Shortbread:

I added a 2 tbsp. of roughly chopped slivered almonds, 2 drops of almond extract, and 2 tbsp. of roughly chopped dried cranberries to half of a batch of dough. Incorporate before rolling and cutting out shapes.

Double Chocolate Cherry Shortbread:

To a half-batch of dough I added 2 tbsp. of diced glacé cherries, 1 tbsp. cocoa powder, and 2 tbsp. of roughly chopped chocolate chips. Incorporate before rolling and cutting out shapes. I topped with a half glacé cherry.

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Merry Christmas!

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