Every year at Christmas, I make Jay's coworkers a little treat of some kind. Cookies, candy, something festive yet inexpensive. Two years ago, I ran across a very simple recipe in the (sadly) now-defunct Wondertime magazine... the writer suggested jazzing these bars up with lemon peel and rosemary, but the plain version appealed to me. They were received with joy-- one coworker calls them "Christmas in cookie form". These little bars of joy consist of just FOUR ingredients-- butter, sugar, salt and flour. That's it. A monkey could make these cookies. Here are the measurements:
11 Tbsp Butter (that's nearly one and a half sticks)
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C flour
Preheat the ol' oven to 325 degrees. If you're smart, you will have set out the butter a couple of hours before you make the cookies so it will be nice and soft. If you forgot, no biggie-- soften it up in the microwave for a bit.
Cream the butter and sugar in your handy-dandy standing mixer, if you are fortunate enough to have one. A hand mixer works just as well if you don't. But try to get one. Your life will be significantly enriched in ways you would never guess.
Add the salt to the butter and sugar mixture, then add the flour. Try not to pour flour all over the counter as you add it one-handed as you try to take photos of the flour addition. Ahem.
The resulting mixture will be crumbly, but that's cool. Scrape the sides of the bowl to be sure you get all the buttery goodness into the dough, and dump it into a 9x9 glass baking dish. A pie plate works, too-- I just like the look of the rectangular shaped cookies. Please, for the love of heaven, DO NOT grease the dish. The cookies grease the dish on their own-- hello, 11 tablespoons of butter-- so they will come out without any further assistance.
Pat the crumbly mass down into pan, and score the dough into sixteen bars with a sharp knife. Pop it into the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, and relax as your house starts to smell delicious. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, re-score them IMMEDIATELY, as they harden pretty quickly. Let them cool, and taste the goodness.
Now, even though I make at least 10 batches of shortbread every December, I have never actually tasted it. I don't think Jay has, either. By the time I make enough for gifts, I have no desire to see anymore shortbread, let alone eat it. So this was our first taste!
We both approved, and I have a feeling that I'll have a hard time keeping Jay out of the cookies next year. Make this simple, delicious treat for yourself! Do it! Do it!