Guys. I awoke yesterday morning with a desperate need to bake 20 dozen cookies. Does that ever happen to you? I think it stems from the fact that my brain correlates Christmas decorations to baking cookies.
As soon as the decorations are up, the cookies appear- just check out our “to-bake” list!! Our freezer, by next weekend, will be chock full of cylinders of dough waiting to be sliced and baked. If you want to get a jump on your cookie baking, here is my very favorite bake-ahead recipe- shortbread!
We are going to use this shortbread for 3 kinds of cookies this year, both caramel and raspberry thumbprints as well as chocolate-dipped traditional shortbread cookies.
This is the shortbread recipe we go-t0, of course it’s from the Pioneer Woman because she can do no wrong.
2 sticks plus 2 tbsp. (18 tbsp. total) butter- room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
2 c flour (we use pastry flour, but all-purpose is fine!)
A little under 1 c. cornstarch
If you’re baking right away, preheat oven to 325 °f. Cream the butter in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until light yellow and fluffy.
Add in sugar and mix for a minute. Sift together cornstarch and flour, add to the butter and sugar in small increments (about 1/4 c. at a time). It should hold together, but add an extra tbsp. of butter if it seems really crumbly.
At this point, we line a baking sheet with parchment or cling wrap. Take a tablespoon of dough and roll it in your hands into a little ball. Place on the sheet and press your thumb into the ball to flatten and create a little bowl. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze overnight. At this point, you can transfer the frozen cookies to a freezer bag. I label them with baking instructions, because I’m cool.
For normal shortbread cookies, I form the dough into a round or square log. Wrap with a few layers of plastic and freeze.
When you’re ready to bake, take out the cookies and lay them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. For the normal shortbread cookies, cut into thin (1/4″ or so) slices and lay onto the cookie sheet. Bake at 325°f. for 20 minutes or so. I start checking them at 15 minutes, because you don’t want them to brown. For the thumbprints, fill with a little dollop of jam or whatever other filling you’re using. This cranberry-orange filling from Martha Stewart would be heavenly.
Caramel filling from Cozy Kitchen:
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 ½ tbsp salted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
Heat sugar and 2 tbsp. water in a saucepan over medium heat, swirling to combine. Throw your cream in the microwave to heat, about a minute and a half in our microwave. Keep your eye on the sugar and remove from the heat when it reaches a medium-brown caramel color.
Don’t overcook, or you will lose both your caramel and your pan-trust me. Take your pan off of the heat and whisk in the butter until it’s melted. Sloooooowly pour in the cream (it bubbles up if the caramel is still super hot) and whisk until completely smooth and incorporated.
Resist the urge to pour caramel directly down your gullet. It will not end well. Spoon a little into each cooled thumbprint cookie. Sprinkle with some salt- (we just use a little-flaked sea salt, but you can use fancy stuff if you’re fancy).