As the holiday season arrives, traditions old and new emerge from the boxes of memory to brighten homes once again. For me, the holidays mean eating great food surrounded by even greater company.
And for decades, a staple of holiday fare for my family has been homemade shortbread cookies.
I’ve made them with my mother every year for as long as I can remember, as she made them with her mother, and her mother before that, who first made the cookies with her own mother (though the recipe has evolved over the years). Though the recipe has evolved over the years, it has maintained its delicious Every time we gather the ingredients together, the roots of the past grow up through the years separating us and sprout blossoms as colorful as the many shades of sugar we decorate the cookies with.
Making shortbread cookies is a serious undertaking in my family – we tend to make three batches of the delicious treat in just one setting. We compile the ingredients, get out the necessary utensils and cookware and pull out the containers of cookie cutters and decorative sweeteners. Dozens of silvery cookie cutters litter the counter, and countless shades of sugar sit ready at the decorating station. A few hours later we emerge from the kitchen, congratulating ourselves on a job well done, our taste buds singing in agreement after sampling a cookie, or two, or three right out of the oven.
At the next family gathering, our extended family shares in the mouthwatering goodness. Kids’ eyes widen, chewing slows, smiles brighten, then eyes close, savoring the flavor as the cookie melts in their mouths.
The recipe is simple, the joy it brings, profound. Allow me to share it with you.
Nannie’s Shortbread Cookies:
- 1 egg yolk (save the egg white)
- 1 cup of butter, softened but not melted
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ¾ cup of packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
Roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to shape the cookies. Use the leftover egg white and paint it across the surface of the cookies before decorating with colored sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes.
You’ll never go back to store-bought shortbread cookies again!