Last year I spent days making these shortbread cookies from the French Laundry. They are the absolute best shortbread I have ever had. In my life. I’ve adopted them as my holiday cookie of record.
But they’re far from traditional for my family. This weekend four generations of our clan will come together to make cut-out cookies — a recipe handed down from my Austro-Hungarian great-grandmother (more on that next week). We look forward to them all year and to say they’re labor intensive is only the half of it.
As personal a fingerprint, the cookies you bake for the holidays say so much about you, your traditions and tastes.
I plan to make some of the most intriguing and celebrate your traditions. Favorites will be referenced in my Sunday column on Dec. 21st.
French Laundry Shortbread
from Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark
225 g (8 oz.) plain flour
75 g (2 3/4 oz.) superfine sugar
1 vanilla pod
150 g (5 1/2 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
50 g (1 3/4 oz.) granulated sugar, for dusting
the oven to 180 C (350 F). Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and
add the superfine sugar. Using a sharp knife, slit the vanilla pod open
lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the tip of the knife. Add the
seeds to the bowl, along with the butter.
Using your fingertips,
rub the butter into the dry ingredients. As the mixture begins to come
together, use your hand to help it form a dough (alternatively, you
could use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed to
make the dough).
Shape the dough into a ball and flatten it
slightly. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2-inch
thickness. Cut into 15 oblongs and place them on a baking sheet lined
with baking parchment.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the baking
sheet around and continue baking for 10 minutes, until the shortbread
is golden brown. Remove from the oven and dust with an even coating of
granulated sugar. Leave on the baking sheet to cool.