Earlier this year we shared our favorite cookie recipe on the blog. It was Valentine’s Day and few things in this world embody the spirit of that particular holiday for kids more than, well, sugar. So sugar ’em up we did with a batch of heart-shaped, chocolate and frosting covered confections. We opted to use our favorite shortbread cookies recipe because…shortbread. Buttery. Crumbly. Dunkable. Extremely versatile. Am I missing any other cookie hall-of-fame criteria? No, I didn’t think so either.
They’re basically perfect.
As you may remember from that earlier post, they’re also wonderful little reminders of one of our childhood favorites, so any occasion at all is reason enough to whip up a few. And trust me, we can always find an occasion! What was it this time? To be honest, it was nothing more than an impromptu morning together…that turned into an impromptu afternoon together with our hubbies…and which then spilled over into an equally impromptu evening together with all the kiddos as well! But how did cookies get thrown into the mix? Well let me just explain…
Initially the morning started off pretty low-key. After drop off, we headed over to my place for some sister-time/shop talk. You know, those types of sister/best friend mornings that start off as a hangout session and then begin to evolve into something that looks like productivity but then reverse course and own up to what they really were all along…a simple sister/best friend hangout sesh? I’m sure you’re familiar with this phenomenon. But I digress. Back to what I was saying! Between fits of laughter interspersed with productive conversation we decided that a bit of coffee was definitely in order. Then, one (or possibly more) cup in, this ordinary coffee suddenly found itself deserving of something to dunk in it, which then led to…you guessed it.
These shortbread cookies, like all others, are born out of the same basic shortbread recipe known the world over. The only difference this time? An injection of Christmas feels by way of a handful of hazelnuts and a fistful of cranberries. Could you maybe use walnuts instead? Pistachios? Absolutely! And we have! These two perennial favorites just so happened to be what we had on hand at the moment and therefore, by way of default, were the lucky winners of this particular cookie fest.
For the full shortbread recipe, check out our previous post here. There are only a few key differences between the two, both of which have to do with the short notice. First, if you keep your butter in the fridge you will have to take it out and let it soften a bit first. There is no way around this step. About twenty to thirty minutes is sufficient time. In a pinch you can try to nudge it along by rubbing it between your hands to warm it up. Whatever you do, however, do not melt it! The other big difference is the time you usually need to let the dough harden in the refrigerator before cutting and baking. To quicken the process we put the dough in the freezer for about fifteen minutes instead.
We used hazelnuts and dried cranberries, about a half cup of each, because we wanted to add a little more oomph to the cookies and also because ain’t nobody got time for frosting cookies when you’ve got a hankering that needs to be sated! The dried fruit and nuts always remind us of wintertime, in fact, we used them last winter to make both fruit and nut garlands and peanut butter and birdseed wildlife cakes for our local critters with the littles. Add more or less depending on your personal preference but just be sure to give them a rough chop before tossing them into the mixer at the very end to be folded in with the rest of the ingredients. When it’s all combined, simply turn it out onto a long piece of plastic wrap, shape, seal, and chill.
We used a few of our Christmas-themed cookie cutters to finish up the job, threw those suckers into the oven, and then sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor. I won’t go into detail here about how uncanny it was that both of our husbands just so happened to return from their respective leaf blowing and post office runs at the very moment the cookies came out of the oven. Suffice it to say, however, that our cookie quota that morning was reduced by about half each as a result.
I WILL mention though that we left hefty slabs of cookie dough in the fridge for later on when the kiddos were home so they could have some cookie making fun too. I mean, we’re not monsters! We’re just sisters who enjoy the simplicity of a few good guffaws around the table, good food, and good company. Especially during this time of year it’s not lost on us how fortunate we are to be living so close together in this wonderful place we now both call home, Long Island. We wish the same sort of simple pleasures and spontaneous fun for you and yours this holiday season and may these cookies bring some happy bellies and big ‘ol grins your way too!