Christmastime in my home begins after Thanksgiving when the basket of holiday children’s books is brought upstairs from the basement. Soon after that, our home is slowly decorated and wonderful, sweet smells begin wafting around from the oven. I appreciate how Christmas sneaks into our lives, like how the lake at Camp freezes inch by inch every night, as opposed to barging in loudly and causing a ruckus.
I am a traditionalist when it comes to many things, but especially Christmas Cookies. I bake the same varieties every year and they must be simple. I’m not a dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts and contains expensive ingredients type of girl! Sure, the cookies have to look pretty, but more importantly, they must taste delicious.
Long ago (or maybe not so long ago, as I know I still have relatives whom I’ve not yet met there), my paternal ancestors originated from Scotland. Scottish Shortbread is a cookie that was allegedly first created by Mary, Queen of Scots, in the 16th Century. Back then, ingredients were expensive and shortbread was treated as a luxury only enjoyed by the rich, or at celebrations and holidays, like Christmas.
As far back as I can remember, my Mom baked shortbread for my Dad every Christmas (or, purchased a tin of it at the store if she ran out of baking days), so it’s a tradition and taste that I grew up with. A few years ago, she gave me a beautiful Snowflake Shortbread Pan for Christmas and I’ve put it to good use since then.
The cookies that fall out of it are lovely and very worthy of giving away as a gift (if they can make it out of your kitchen). I use the recipe that came with the pan, as true shortbread only needs flour, sugar, and butter (and the included recipe contains the exact amount needed to fill the pan).
Scottish “Snowflake” Shortbread from Nordic Ware
1. Cream 3/4 cup butter (why not use homemade butter?) with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 TSP of pure vanilla extract.
3. Press the dough firmly into the greased snowflake pan.
5. Allow the pan to cool for 10 minutes, then invert the pan onto a cutting board (I gently whack the pan to help the cookies fall out). Slice the cookies into squares while warm. Sprinkle sugar on top of them.