Prize Shortbread Cookies

I’m not sure which prize they won, who won it, or when, but this is my family’s Best Christmas Cookie. Mom made these every year, even when she was exhausted and threatened not to, because we all love them so much.

Prize Shortbread
(From Five Roses Flour “A Guide to Good Cooking”)

2 cups flour
1 cup soft butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg*
*Freshly grated nutmeg is so much better, but regular ground nutmeg from the spice aisle will be ok.

The recipe in this book is very clear about using a wooden spoon, and I don’t know why. I’ve never dared to try a plastic spoon or (gasp) my Kitchenaid mixer, because I feel I should obey the book. So, start by finding a wooden spoon.

Stir sugar and egg yolk into the soft butter, then stir in salt and nutmeg. Add the flour, a quarter cup at a time, until the batter is too hard to stir with the spoon. I usually hit this point at about 3.5 cups. Dump the batter out onto a floured counter and knead gently while adding more flour to the dough by hand. Keep drawing flour in by kneading until the dough just begins to crack*. Roll the dough out with a floured rolling pin to about a quarter-inch thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Decorate with sprinkles or colored sugar if you want to. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Look for the edges to start browning the tiniest bit – that’s when they’re done.

Move them to a cooling rack immediately, but be careful, they are very fragile. Pushing them off with a spatula is usually better than trying to get anything under them on the cookie sheet.

This recipe will get you about 3 dozen cookies, but it depends on how big a cutter you’re using.

These will fall apart in your mouth and taste like buttery heaven.

*It has just occurred to me that I should have taken a picture of this step, because what the heck does “beginning to crack” mean to someone who hasn’t done this before? It shouldn’t be so wet that it sticks to everything, but it shouldn’t be so dry that it flakes as you roll it. I’ll take pictures next time and add them!

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