Shortbread Snowflakes

Shortbread Snowflakes

This shortbread cookie recipe comes from Eli Zabar of Eli’s Manhattan in New York City, via the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook.  The first few years that I made them as a Christmas cookie, I decorated them with silver dragees, so festive.  When silver dragees weren’t readily available, I found myself on an exhaustive search for them at every bakery within 15 miles!  Most of the bakeries were unwilling to part with their supply, I only found one.  Now that that supply has also been depleted, I decorate the cookies with white sugar pearls. Nonpareils would also work well.  To help maintain the shape, I always chill the dough after cutting it into snowflakes, 10 minutes to overnight, tightly wrapped in saran wrap.

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • silver dragees, sugar pearls, or nonpareils for decorating
  1. Mix together the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined.  Add the vanilla.  In another bowl, sift together the flour and salt; add it to the butter and sugar.  Mix until the dough starts to come together.  Dump on a floured board and shape into a flat disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick to 1/2 inch thick and cut with desired cookie cutter.  (Chill, if desired) Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes for 1/4 inch thick, to 20-25 minutes for 1/2 inch thick, until the edges begin to brown.  Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine the confectioners’ sugar with about 2 tablespoons of water to make a very thin glaze.  Spoon onto the cookies and sprinkle with a few dragees (sugar pearls, etc.) before the glaze dries.

Haystacks

Haystacks are one of my Grandmother’s thirty Christmas cookies that my mom, my sister and I always made growing up.  They are my husband’s absolute favorite, and quite possibly the easiest cookie to make in the world! I double the recipe every year.

  • 24 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 10 oz chow mein noodles
  1. Melt the chocolate in a large bowl over a double boiler. (Don’t microwave!)
  2. Meanwhile, pulse/chop the chow mein noodles in a food processor into smaller pieces.
  3. Mix the noodles into the melted chocolate, until they are completely covered.  Drop by spoonfuls (or use a small cookie scoop) onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  4. Let stand at room temperature overnight or until solid.

Raspberry Meringue Kisses

My grandmother used to make over thirty different types of Christmas cookies.   This recipe was always one of the thirty.  Growing up, my mom, sister and I made them every year as well.  They are my daughter’s favorite.  So EASY!!!  They have the best texture if they are made on a dry day.  I double the recipe and use 1 small box of gelatin, and 1 bag of mini chocolate chips.

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 T raspberry gelatin
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 cup minature chocolate chips
  1. Beat egg whites with salt until foamy.  Add raspberry gelatin & sugar gradually, beat until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved.  Mix in vinegar, fold in chocolate bits.
  2. Drop from teaspoon (or using a cookie scoop & a teaspoon!), onto 3 parchment lined cookie sheets.
  3. Bake at 250 degrees for 25 minutes.  Turn oven OFF.  Leave cookies in the oven 2 hours to overnight.

Yield: Makes about 9 dozen.

Lemon Butter Cookies

I have made these Christmas cookies for years.  The powdered sugar gives them a lovely delicate texture and the red and green sanding sugar makes them festive and pretty.  They really need flavorful zest in the dough for the lemon flavor to shine through.

The slice-and-bake dough is simple to make.  I refrigerate the dough in wrapping paper cardboard in order to keep the log shape intact.  I use the leftover egg whites to make another traditional holiday cookie in my house, raspberry meringues. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

  • Yield: Makes about 50
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • grated zest of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Approximately 1/2 cup colored sanding sugar or granulated sugar, for coating

  1. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until smooth.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth and silky.
  3. Beat in 1 egg yolk, then the salt, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until incorporated. Do not overbeat.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough in two and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log 1 to 1 1 /4 inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Can be prepared up to this point and kept, well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
  7. Place one rack in the upper third and one in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  8. Whisk the remaining egg yolk in a small bowl until smooth. Spread sugar out on a piece of wax paper.
  9. Remove the logs from refrigerator, unwrap, and brush lightly with the egg yolk. Roll logs in the sugar, pressing to adhere.
  10. Slice crosswise 1/4-inch-thick using a sharp knife. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1/2-inch between cookies.
  11. Bake until set but not brown, 11 (on convection) to 14 minutes.
  12. Transfer cookies to cooling rack until room temperature.

Note: Cookies will keep stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 5 days.

Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps

Every year I make at least 5 different types of Christmas cookies.  I usually try to add a new one to the plate, and this was it last year.  It was our favorite!

I made 4 times the recipe last year, and this year I increased it to 8 times.  I gave most of them away, but I made TONS of them–I think that I overdid it.  I use the 72% dark chocolate “pound plus” bar from Trader Joe’s, it is delicious.  I also decreased the instant espresso from 4 teaspoons to 1 teaspoon.

This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food.

  • Prep Time 45 minutes
  • Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield Makes 18
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso, or as desired
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for coating

chocolate espresso snowcaps 3

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Pour confectioners’ sugar (about 1/2 cup) into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.
  3. Place on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 10 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Cookies will keep for up to a week stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

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