Tonight is shortbread night. This will be the second batch. The first batch never makes it to Christmas - it is meant to be eaten before it has a chance to mature. That way, we are so tired of shortbread by the time I make the second batch that we don't eat it and there is plenty for company!
I use a recipe I found on the back of a box of cornstarch - Grandma's Shortbread - and tried it out. It has been a staple at Christmas ever since. It has four ingredients - 3/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup icing sugar, and 1 cup flour - and is so easy to make. Mix the dry ingredients together and then add them a spoonful at a time to the creamed butter in the mixing bowl with the mixer on low.
Now, it is very important to have the mixer on low. You've heard of the laws of nature? Well, one of them (can't remember which one) states that when a light slow moving object is whacked by a heavy fast moving one, the lighter one will go flying. Such is the case of a mixture of flour, cornstarch and icing sugar coming into contact with rapidly spinning beaters. You want instant grey hair? Then let 'er rip!
I cream the butter first to make it fluffier, then SLOWLY mix in the dry stuff a spoonful at a time on LOW until well combined. Don't beat too much or you end up with tough shortbread, and no one likes that! (Wait a minute. Maybe take half out now and make GOOD shortbread for me, and beat the crap out of the rest and put that out for everyone else. Hmmm...) Where was I? Oh yes. When the dry is mixed in, dump the whole thing onto a lightly floured counter top and roll to about 1/4" thick. Cut out shapes and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes until just starting to get golden on the edges. Reroll the scraps and keep on going until you run out of dough. When the cookies are cool, decorate to your heart's desire!
I found these little tubes of icing called Scribblers that have just enough icing to trace around the edge of about 6 cookies. They come in a package of four primary colors and are perfect for kids to use. And the icing dries hard so the cookies can be stacked - that is, if they last long enough to actually make it into a cookie tin!
So enjoy my favourite recipe for Grandma's Shortbread! As the late, great Julia Child used to say, Bon Apetite!