I am not much of a cookie baker. In fact, aside from the occasional cake on special occasions I rarely bake sweets at all. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, if I bake an entire batch of cookies, I will have to eat an entire batch of cookies. Which, as someone who tries to eat a balanced, healthy diet, with a lot of vegetables and fruit, is not something I want to be doing on a regular basis. So, when it comes to things like cookies and squares I resort to the same strategy that I use to avoid treats and snacks at the grocery store – if I don’t buy it I won’t eat it, and if I don’t bake it I won’t eat it. Secondly, I am not very good at baking cookies, probably because I don’t do it very often. I really haven’t made a batch of cookies in years, not since the few attempts I made at making peanut butter cookies for M (they are his favourite). None of those cookies turned out, but these shortbread cookies did.
Shortbread cookies are one of the few exceptions to my general cookie baking avoidance (I have also been known to make a batch of biscotti). I used to make shortbread cookies all the time in the first few years after I moved out of my parent’s home as an emergency treat when I had very little money, and had not yet “gotten into” food. Shortbread is great for that because it requires minimal, inexpensive, ingredients that are most likely lying around your pantry, it is not overly complicated to make, and it tastes really good. As I have been making an effort to be more festive these days, I thought some Christmas cookies were obligatory.
Despite the easy recipe, I did have some trouble making these cookies (no fault of the recipe, I was just having an off day in the kitchen.) First, I only creamed two sticks of butter, which I figured out when the dough was far too crumbly to come together, at which point I added in the third stick. Second, I tried making a lemon icing to go with the cookies, but had not brought the extra butter to room temperature. I decided to take a shortcut and zap it in the microwave, but ended up with lumpy frosting (which I still ate, but decided not to photograph). Apparently zapping butter is a cookie baking no-no. Then, I realized that I had not left myself enough time to bake these and photograph the process while it was still light outside. (The sun has been going down up here in Canada around 4:30-5:00 lately). I decided to cut my losses and call it a day in the kitchen. I left the dough to chill in the refrigerator overnight, cut out and baked the cookies the next day and despite my earlier mishaps they turned out great.