Can you imagine a Christmas without cookies? I just can’t!
As you probably already know if you read last year’s article about my homemade hot chocolate, this is the time of the year I like the most. Baking Christmas cookies is one of my beloved traditions, whether they are spiced, chocolate or lemon ones. It’s not a proper Christmas if I don’t spend hours in the kitchen, baking my favourite sweet treat for the holiday season!
I love preparing the cookie dough and shaping them with the most Christmassy cutters, as well as decorating them after baked… and don’t you dare turn the music player off while I’m baking: Christmas music soundtrack is the secret ingredient for a yummy result!
Here’s my family recipe for shortcrust pastry, an ideal pastry for various sweet recipes, but also friable, fragrant, flavourful cookies. I prefer making them lemon flavoured (lemon flavoured desserts are one of my addiction!), but you can choose vanilla – or cinnamon – or ginger instead.
Don’t be scared of the amount of butter you’ll need: calories don’t count on holidays (am I right?).
Christmas cookies – shortcrust recipe
Ingredients (for about 60/70 cookies – depending on the cutters you use)
- All purpose flour, 500 gr. (or 4 cups, or 17.6 oz)
- Butter, cold, 200 gr. (or 1 3/4 cups, or 7.05 oz)
- Caster sugar, 200 gr. (or 1 cup, or 7.05 oz)
- Eggs, medium, 2
- Lemons, organic, 2 (the grated zest)
- Baking powder, a teaspoon
- Salt, a small pinch
Sift the flour with the baking powder and cut the cold butter into little cubes. On a marble or wooden board, put the flour with the baking powder first, and upon them the other ingredients (eggs, butter, sugar, salt, lemon zest).
Using a large pastry spatula or a knife, cut the ingredients with vertical movements to start shaping the dough, as if you were slicing an onion. You shouldn’t use your hands at this stage, because it’s better not to warm the butter and the dough, otherwise the pastry will be greasy.
After about 5 minutes moving the spatula (or the knife) up and down, you should have a sort of sandy crumble, with all the ingredients cut in small pieces and covered with flour.
At this point, it’s time for you to plunge your hands into the dough to knead it quickly (always keep in mind you don’t have to warm it!). You’ll just need a few movements: as soon as all the ingredients are combined in a ball-shaped dough, just leave it and do not touch it further.
Put the dough in the fridge and let it rest. After an hour, with a rollin pin, roll the shortcrust pastry to about 5mm thick. You may need to dust some flour in order to avoid it to stick to the surface when rolling it. Now’s the fun part: choose your favourite Christmas cutters to shape your cookies!
Lay the cookies on a baking tray covered with baking paper and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for about 12 to 15 minutes, checking them frequently to avoid overbaking. They’re ready when the edges are firm or, if you want them to be more friable (like I do), when their edges start becoming slightly more coloured.
Personally, all year long I like to eat them plain or simply dusted with some icing sugar.
At Christmas though, I love decorating them with dark or white chocolate, and sprinkle on them hazelnuts, pistachios, chili pepper or coconuts.
Why not put them in lovely homemade paper bags to give them as the perfect gift for your foodie friends?
Christmas shortcrust pastry cookies
- Prep time: 15 minutes kneading, 1 hour rest, 1 hour to shape them, 12/15 minutes to bake each tray
- Yield: 60/70 cookies, depending on the cutters size
- Tips: in order to preserve their friability and flavour, store them in a tin box.
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