Shortbread dough is so flexible and perfect when you want to make an assortment of holiday baked goods using only one batch of dough. With this recipe, you can also customize your treats to suit your taste. We used holiday cookie decorations, but finely chopped nuts will be perfect as well. Get creative with cookie decorations such as colored sugar, jimmies, sprinkles, luminous candy pearls or sparkling dragees. Butter is such a critical ingredient in these treats, so we recommend using a top-quality butter, such as Cabot, Plugra or Kerrygold.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, use high quality such as Cabot, Plugra or Kerrygold
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
In an electric mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract until fluffy, then beat in the flour ½ cup at a time. The dough may seem a little dry but keep beating till it comes together. If it won’t come together, drizzle in 1 teaspoon of water at a time up to 3 teaspoons until it does. You are creating a stiff dough, so only add as much water as necessary.
Divide the dough in half, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until use.
Chocolate Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies
½ batch shortbread dough
1 cup chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
½ cup crushed candy canes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using butter, lightly grease one square 9″ cake pan. Place parchment in the bottom and lightly grease the parchment.
Press the dough into a prepared pan, smoothing the surface with you fingers. Chill the dough in the pan for 30 minutes.
Use a fork to prick the dough all over in an even pattern; this allows any steam to escape. Bake the shortbread until it’s a light golden brown across the top surface, and a deeper golden brown around the edges, about 25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven. Handling the baked dough carefully, immediately turn the shortbread out onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into 16 squares. Be sure to do this while the shortbread is still warm; it won’t cut easily if it cools. Transfer the shortbread squares to a rack to cool.
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave at 50% power in 45-second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until melted completed. Spread the chocolate in a pattern on half of each cookie then set on parchment to cool. Sprinkle with crushed candy cane, or any decorations you choose, and refrigerate until the chocolate sets. Makes 16 cookies.
Mini Holiday Cinnamon Cheesecakes
1/2 batch shortbread dough
One 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
¼ cup white chocolate chips
holiday sprinkles or dragees
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using butter, lightly grease a 12-cup mini cheesecake pan or muffin pan. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and place in the pan’s cups. Press firmly to the bottoms and up the sides. Use a fork to prick the dough all over; this allows any steam to escape. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until set and just beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
To make the cheesecake batter, in an electric mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the cream, egg, cinnamon and vanilla; mixing well. Spoon the batter into the cooled crusts, using between one to two tablespoons in each.
Bake the cheesecakes for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20-30 minutes. Use a knife to gently loosen the edges, then carefully remove the cheesecakes from the pan. Chill for 30 minutes. Place the cheesecakes on a parchment lined sheet pan.
Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave at 50% power in 45-second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until melted completed. Using a fork, drizzle the white chocolate over the top of the cheesecakes and immediately add holiday sprinkles, candy pearls or dragees. Chill until the chocolate is set and keep cool until ready to serve. Makes 12 mini cheesecakes.