Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shortbread Cookies with Candied Cherries

Shortbread with candied cherries. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Fruitcake is not a tradition in my home, although my mom makes stellar "fruitcake cookies." (That recipe is hers and I hope to share it soon). I buy the candied cherries, however, to top Mom’s sandy, crispy, buttery shortbread. Shortbread is the easiest, most elemental cookie – butter, confectioner’s sugar, flour, salt and vanilla. In the past year, I've begun subbing rice flour for part of the all-purpose. It gives the shortbread a shattery, slightly friable texture.

When I wake up in early December and say “it’s cookie baking time,” I always start with a tray of shortbread. Like Sook and Buddy's fruitcake from only best short story ever written ("A Chrismtas Memory" by Truman Capote), it’s a tradition, and it’s simple – I already have butter, sugar and flour out and the oven’s pre-heating.

Shortbread with candied cherries. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Scottish Shortbread

1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened

½ cup powder sugar (10X)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup rice flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Candied cherries or pecan halves for garnish, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 325. In a mixer, cream butter and sugar, then add flours gradually. Add salt and vanilla.

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the dough to 1/4 –inch thick, in a rough rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut into 1-inch square pieces. Press cherry or pecan halves onto each square.

3. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. The cuts will have melded back together, but quick work with a sharp knife will take care of that. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Green and red candied cherries. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.

1 comment:

Felicia said...

Lucy, these are so cute! I normally don't go for candied cherries, but around Christmas, they just seem right--and they look terrific on that shortbread!