Is it a cookie? Is it a wreath?
It’s actually both.
This started out as as Martha Stewart’s “Classic Shortbread” recipe from her cookbook, “Martha Stewart’s Cookies” (Clarkson Potter, 2008), one of my favorite baking books.
The butter-filled dough is pressed into a fluted tart pan to create one massive cookie that gets scored with a knife into wedges. The directions have you pressing a round 2 1/4-inch cookie cutter into the center before baking to create a doughnut-like hole.
Martha says to just discard this cut-out, but it’s sizeable enough, that I just put it on a separate little tray to bake up as a regular-sized cookie.
I went a step further with the rest of the shortbread by gilding it with new product. I recently received samples of Siren Spice Co. Infused Cane Sugars, which are made by husband-and-wife Matt and Tiffany Rogers, who started the Tennessee boutique food company, RogersMade.
They take organic cane sugar and flavor it with various organic ingredients to create a product that can be used in baking, garnishing desserts, rimming a cocktail glass or stirred into beverages.
They come in five varieties: Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread, Cafe Mocha, Pink Lemonade, and Snowflake. The Pumpkin Spice will definitely make you think of holiday pie. The Gingerbread is full of warmth, though not in-your-face gingery. The Cafe Mocha might be my favorite because it’s coffee-chocolate flavor really comes through. The Pink Lemonade is puckery-sweet like lemon candy. And the Snowflake is like glittery snow with a hint of peppermint.
They come in 4.3-ounce jars for $7.95 each.
After scoring the shortbread with a paring knife into pie-like wedges, I sprinkled a different infused sugar on each slice before baking.
This cookie requires a long bake at a lower temperature — about an hour at 300 degrees. Depending upon the flavor, a few of the infused sugars melted more than others, creating an interesting mosaic look on the cookie.
With its hole in the center, this cookie immediately reminded me of a wreath, so I tied a festive ribbon through it once it cooled. What a cute gift or holiday centerpiece, right?
Just be warned, though, that even though you scored the cookie prior to baking, it will not break off or cut cleanly into neat triangular pieces unless you cut it again with a knife right after you remove it from the oven.
Even if you wait until it’s cooled to partake of a rather irregular-shaped piece instead, you will still enjoy its quite buttery taste, and snappy crisp yet crumbly texture. The sugars add a subtle flavor and a perfect twist of holiday fun.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
Sift together flour and salt into a bowl. Put butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture all at once; mix until just combined.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees, with rack in upper third.
Using plastic wrap, press dough into a buttered 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. With plastic on dough, refrigerate 20 minutes. Remove plastic wrap. Cut out a round from the center using a 2 1/4-inch cookie cutter. Discard. (Or place this little dough round on a small tray to bake separately, removing it about 15-20 minutes earlier from the oven than the tart pan-cookie.)
Place cutter back in center. Cut dough into eight wedges with a paring knife. Using a wooden skewer, prick all over at 1/4-inch intervals. (If using infused sugars, sprinkle them on the top.)
Bake until golden brown and firm in center, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack. Recut shortbread into wedges; let cool completely in pan. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Cookies” by the Editors of Martha Stewart Living
More Holiday Cookies to Bake: Ad Hoc Chocolate Chip Cookies
And: Fig Cookies
And: Graham Crackers
And: Italian Macaroons
And: Walnut Acorn Cookies