Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Simple Gifts

We were singing this song old song my mother used to sing to us.....

Mama's little babies love shortnin, shortnin;
Mama's little babies love shortnin bread!

Has anyone else ever sung that little song? That's all I remember of it....there must be more to it than just those two lines.

Anyway, in case you haven't guessed, yesterday was Shortbread Day at our house. It snowed and drizzled all day and we mixed and baked and decorated our way through the morning. In the afternoon, we rested on our laurels (I didn't know that's what you call a Lazy Boy Recliner.).

Shortbread Bells, Stars and Bulbs

Shortbread Cookies Recipe

5 c. All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 c. Sugar (or half Stevia and half sugar)
2 c. Butter (doesn't have to be salt-free)

Cut the butter in little cubes. Mix the Flour and Sugar well together. If you want to add flavoring, now is the time. A teaspoon of Vanilla, 1/2 t. Almond or 1 t. Maple sprinkled over the flour....these are good choices.Or, leave it plain. 

Add the butter to the flour and mix the whole thing with your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs and will stick together without too much cracking when it's squeezed. If it won't hold together, add another 1/4 c. of butter, cubed, and mix it in.  When it's the right consistency, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest while you make the mincemeat treat, below, from some of the dough. 

After about twenty minutes, roll the dough out 1/2" thick. Cut shapes with cutters or just cut the dough into squares. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees F. Take the cookies out when the edges of one or two are looking slightly tan. 

Don't let them brown at all. You can't under bake them, really.

When they were done, I painted them with colored glaze frosting. I like this glaze frosting because you can package it and it doesn't make a mess. It dries nice and hard and actually strengthens the cookies. Bulbs.....


...and Santa and Reindeer guarding the whole thing. These will be given as gifts in our neighborhood.

To make the Colored Glaze, in five small custard cups, place 1/4 c. powdered sugar each
Add flavoring, now, such as a few drops to taste of Vanilla, Run, Maple, Almond, etc., extract.
To each cup, add 1 Tablespoon of cold water. Mix well until smooth.
To each cup add a different color, leaving one white. I used 3 drops each of Red, Yellow, Blue and Green.

Dip a good watercolor brush in cold, clear water, and begin painting. Keep the clear water on hand to clean your brush between changes of color. 

After the first coat dries on the cookies, you can add patterns and dots on top. You really can get quite elaborate with the painting! I didn't, because my .... um.... laurels were calling....

Meanwhile, there was a mad cat in the office, tearing up the old chair. Yes, you, Katrina. I can see you have the heebie-jeebies. 

"Not me. Not the heebie-jeebies. I'm just full of Christmas Cheer!"

"When I'm full of Christmas Cheer I have to rabbit-kick this old chair and hang from the arm like a monkey."

"And then look around, innocently. Who me?"

We also made Mincemeat Shortbread Bars. These are very rich, but an easy recipe.

Cut them while they are warm and serve at room temperature or cold. Great little squares to include in a gift basket. I wrap them in waxed paper and put a Christmas sticker on each one to keep them tight.

Mincemeat Shortbread Bars

Take 1/3 of the dough above or about half of the above shortbread recipe, and press 2/3 of that amount into the bottom of a greased 9"x9"x2" baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes. Remove the dish and spread 3 cups of prepared mincement over it.

Now, you don't have to use mincement. You could use Strawberry Jam, Orange Marmalade, etc., instead. Any fruit spread or mixture with bits of fruit. Jellies don't work very well here.

Take the remaining shortbread dough and mix it, with your fingers, with 1/4 c. Butter 3 T. Brown Sugar and 1/2 c. Pecans, Almonds, Walnuts or any nut of choice, ground well. Sprinkle this over the fruit filling and press it down a little. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Nice little treats for a neighbor or friend; or just to keep out on the table for the visitors who are bound to arrive, sooner or later.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. that you mention that song, I think those are the only lines I know if it too! LOL!!
    I love shortening bread cookies. If I have some time, those just might be just the ticket! ;-)
    Merry Christmas!


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