Good things don’t always have to come in big packages. Baking doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process to yield delicious, worthwhile packages. Christmas treats shouldn’t have to always take you a few days to crank out of the kitchen.
And this is coming from someone who will dedicate entire weekends to her baking endeavors if the recipe so calls for it.
If you’re sitting down at the moment and thinking, “Boy, I’d really love to have a really yummy Christmas cookie right about now but I sure don’t feel like spending a bunch of time in the kitchen.”, then rest easy. There is indeed a solution to this problem.
The solution is shortbread. Sugared Shortbread to be exact.
I really don’t know how I’ve been baking for as long as I have and *just* now got around to baking shortbread but I suppose Christmas is as good a time as any to start. This recipe is so easy, there really was no excuse for me to try and hide behind anymore. From the time I made the decision to take a stab at the shortbread to mixing the ingredients, baking, then finish was really no more than one hour, TOPS.
It was just SO simple. And the results.
I was skeptical that a cookie with so few and ‘standard’ ingredients could be something worth writing home about at all. But fortunately,even skeptics like me get proven wrong at times. I don’t know what it is about the combination of these few, simple ingredients, but they create a cookie that is really, really REALLY addictive.
The smell as it’s baking is…wow. I was excited before I even took it out of the oven. Does it *need* the extra sprinkling of sugar on top? Not necessarily. On it’s own, it’s a pretty darn tasty stick of buttery shortbread, but the added sugar does give it that extra sweetness and an added crunchy texture on top. The texture of the shortbread itself is sandy and tender; think a thick sandie cookie that melts in your mouth. Because I prefer the flavor, I used two teaspoons of vanilla extract but this shortbread is so versatile that I could easily see using ANY other extract with excellent results: lemon, lime, coconut, anise, almond, orange. If you wanted to add in citrus zest, that too would be awesome.
Bottom line, if you’ve got about 10 minutes to spare, then you should whip together this shortbread. It’s a perfect bite of Christmas cheer if ever I took one–and I took several.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup rice flour*
- 1/2 cup sugar, and more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*You can make your own rice flour by pulverizing plain long grain rice in a high power blender (like a Ninja or Nutribullet) on the highest setting until grains are very fine and powdery.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with parchment paper.
Whisk the dry ingredients (flours, sugar and salt) together with a fork or wire whisk. Pour in the melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir together until evenly combined.
Press into the bottom of the pan evenly with your hands or rubber spatula. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with a thin layer of sugar. Bake for 5 more minutes.
Using a bench scraper or a knife, cut shortbread into slices while still warm and sprinkle more sugar on top if desired. Allow to cool completely.