Gram’s Shortbread Cookies

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Sprinkle with a little coloured sugar, or mini decorations, to fit the season, but don’t overload these delicate little gems.  They really don’t need much of anything.

This is an age old recipe, probably handed down for generations, and all from a box of cornstarch.  I started looking for this recipe as a way to honour Gram Shirley Goldie, and posting it today, on the first anniversary of her passing, seems fitting.  What I didn’t expect in my search through recipes to find her special recipe, is that it was also my mom’s recipe, another much loved and very much missed Gram.  Our very dear Auntie Elsie used the same recipe.  This year when I made the cookies, I felt the need to work the dough by hand, no mixer needed here.  As I watched my hands in the dough, I saw the hands of my mother.  I saw the hands of my mother in law Shirley, and I saw Auntie Elsie’s hands.  I’m posting the recipe to honour them all, and in the hopes that for generations to come, this will be the “go to” Christmas shortbread recipe.

  • 1 cup Canada corn starch (really, you can use any corn starch)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (softened)

Sift cornstarch, flour & icing sugar together.  Use your fingers and work in the butter until a soft dough is formed.

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Maybe it was the Christmas season, but I found myself lost in watching my hands and thinking of the hands that taught me so much in the kitchen.

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Once the dough is held together nicely it should be soft and supple.  Either put in the fridge to rest at this point, or carry on with simple dough balls.

Shape into 1 inch balls and place on an uncreased cookie sheet.  Flatten lightly with a fork in a crosshatch pattern.

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Bake the cookies at 325 for 10 min or so – watch them, every oven is different.  Remove them the minute they show any colour.  They are very soft when they come out, so I recommend allowing them to cool on the pan so they don’t break.

It is possible to allow the dough to set up in the fridge after forming it into a ball, and use it to roll out and cut shapes.  This is a pretty delicate dough though, so don’t expect it to be as easy as sugar cookie dough.

How easy is this?

Fresh Cranberry Lemon Drop Cookies

These buttery little morsels are a great combination of shortbread richness with the tart hint of cranberry and lemon.  When I had the first one I thought …. Hmmmm, okay, they are good but maybe not my favourite cookie  –  however, next thing I knew I was reaching for a second cookie and now I just can’t stop.

Cranberry Lemon cookies 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, diced finely

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1/3 cup powdered icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl rub the lemon zest into the sugar until moist and fragrant.  Add the butter to the lemon sugar and beat until light and fluffy, go for at least 3-5 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until smooth and creamy.

Add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.  Fold in the cranberries by hand.

Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Gently form the dough into small balls and bake for 13-15 minutes on parchment lined cookie sheets.  They spread out a little but not too much so you can put quite a few on each cookie sheet.

Cranberry Lemon 2

Diced fresh cranberries give these little lemon balls a pretty pop of colour.

Let cookies cool slightly before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together and drizzle over completely cooled cookies.  I used a pastry brush for this step to allow the whole top to get a shiny finish.  Watch your glaze mixture carefully, you just want it loose enough to brush or drizzle with either clumping or just running off the cookie.

Orange Gingerbread Cookies

The first time I tasted these orange ginger cookies, I knew we needed the recipe!  Thanks Courtney for supplying that courtesy of Nana Patti Collins ….. just wait until you try these.

Orange Ginger 1

Preheat oven to 365 F.

  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tsp orange peel
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy, add egg, orange peel & corn syrup.

Sift dry ingredients together and add gradually to creamed mixture.

Orange Ginger 2

Wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Orange Ginger 3

Roll between sheets of parchment paper (to 1/4″ thickness”) and cut.  (or form into a log and chill to slice and bake) These cookies do spread out quite a bit so leave lots of room between each one.

Bake at 365 for 9 minutes.

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I think these might be my new favourite cookie. I usually go for a crisper cookie, but these are soft and chewy and absolutely delicious.

Deliciously soft and chewy

Deliciously soft and chewy

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2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup fine coconut flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate
(We really like a fine bit of chocolate throughout, so we grated it, but if you like it a bit chunkier, just roughly chop it)
1 cup pecans, chopped
large flake sea salt for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl … Flour, oats, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon and kosher salt. Stir well to combine.

In large mixing bowl cream butter with the 2 sugars. When this is light and fluffy add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla.

Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture until well combined. Stir in pecans and chocolate.

Roll into 2″ balls and place on cookie sheet, about 2″ apart. Gently press down slightly.

Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes.

The minute they come out of the oven, quickly toss on a bit of sea salt for garnish.

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Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

 

  • Set 2 racks in the middle and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, oats, pecans, cranberries and coconut flakes together with a whisk or fork.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together for 30 seconds until blended. Beat in the egg until smooth and barely fluffy. With mixer running on medium high, drizzle in the maple syrup, and vanilla until incorporated. Turn the mixer down to its lowest setting and gradually add the flour-oatmeal mixture
  • Drop walnut-sized balls of dough onto a nonstick or parchment-lined cookie sheet at 3-inch intervals. With moistened fingers, flatten and round out the cookies a little. Bake for 10 minutes, turning the pan once for even baking, then bake approximately another 7-10 minutes. They will not spread out or change in shape …
  • The cookies are done when they are lightly browned on top. Set the cookie sheets on a rack to cool.

Breakfast Cookies

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  • 1 ¼ cup flour (or any combination of whole wheat and white flours)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 1/3 cup raisins, or any dried fruit
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted in a dry skillet for 2 minutes, until fragrant and chopped (or any nut – chopped and toasted)

 

Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Combine butter, oil and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed, scraping down sides if necessary, until sugars have dissolved and mixture is light in color, about 1 minute. Add egg, carrot, and vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add flour mixture and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add oats, coconut, raisins and walnuts and mix over low speed just until incorporated. Dough will be slightly sticky and less cohesive than traditional cookie dough. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a tsp to drop cookie batter on cookie sheet, or if you prefer a large cookie use a tablespoon between 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter, using the tsp you will get about 30-32 cookies. Repeat with remaining batter, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Wet hands and use palm of hand to flatten cookies until about 1/4-inch thick. These cookies will not spread out, nor change shape so if you want a perfect cookie, create that shape before you bake it.

Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are fragrant but still soft. Let cookies cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

This is a great recipe to adapt to your own preferences – I used blueberry craisins in my latest version, and will try adding zucchini next time ….

Mexican Chocolate Snow Caps

These delicious little bites were waiting for Hayley, Sloan, Stella and I when we arrived at big sister Meghan’s house – you can’t have just one!  She made them as peppermint, and they are fabulous.  Gluten free too!

 

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8 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped

2 tbsp butter

1 1/4 cup ground almonds

1/4 tsp salt

2 large eggs (room temperature)

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp ancho chile powder 

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Sifted icing sugar to roll cookies

In a heatproof bowl (over pan of gently simmering water) melt chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in almonds and salt.

in a mixing bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until pale and thickened, about 2 minutes.  Add in chocolate mixture and spices.  Fold until well blended.  Cover and put in the fridge until very firm – about 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Form dough into 1 1/4″ balls.  Roll balls in icing sugar.  

Place 2″ apart on trays.  Bake until puffed, starting to crack on top and the edges are firm – about 12 minutes.

So easy to switch these up and make them into Peppermint Caps – substitute the chile powder and cinnamon for 1 tsp peppermint extract.