Quick ‘N Easy Shortbread Three Ways
This one will get you guys all the way through the holiday season in no time at all. The three doughs can be made ahead of time and frozen until you need them – just bake off the pumpkin pie spiced cookies for Thanksgiving, the candy cane cookies for Christmas, and round out your party with the "sparkling sugar" cookies on New Year's Eve. And if you're not one for baking or simply don't have the time, you can substitute a store-bought sugar cookie dough for the shortbread and roll that in each of your toppings.
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 to 4 tablespoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 4 to 5 candy canes, finely crushed in a food processor or smashed in a food storage bag with a rolling pin
- 1 cup "Sugar in the Raw", also known as turbinado sugar
Yields: about 4 dozen cookes
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl with a handheld beater, combine the butter, sugar, salt and mix until well-blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes (be sure to turn off the machine about halfway through mixing to scrape the bowl down). Add the eggs, one at a time, along with the vanilla extract and mix to incorporate.
Turn off the mixer and add the flour. Start the mixer on a very low speed and mix to incorporate all the flour (if using a handheld mixer, this may be easier to do with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula).
Flatten the dough down in the bowl and, using the side of your hand, roughly mark the dough into three equal pieces. Divide the dough and turn each section out onto three large separate pieces of parchment or wax paper. Shape the dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches thick using your hands (don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect, you just want it to be an even thickness all the way through).
Sprinkle the pumpkin pie spice evenly over the surface of one log of dough, then roll it around in the excess spice to completely coat the outside of the log. Repeat this procedure using the candy canes on one log and the sugar in the raw on the other. Roll each cookie dough log up in the wax or parchment paper and place it into the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until firm. (If baking the cookies at a later date, wrap the log tightly in plastic wrap and place the dough into the freezer. Allow the dough to defrost overnight in the refrigerator before baking.)
Once the cookie dough has firmed up, preheat an oven to 375ºF. Remove the log from the refrigerator and cut it into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange them on a nonstick cookie sheet and bake until the edges are very lightly golden brown, 13-15 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely before handling them.
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