There are a lot of good things to love about these Shortbread Cookies and nothing to hate! Well, other than getting used to the technique.
I love shortbread. There is something about that simple yet rich taste that can't compare to chocolate - believe it or not. The raspberry preserves I normally use add a layer of flavor that is simple yet decadent. One of the best versions I've made was topped with Chocolate-Raspberry Preserves from Ann's Raspberry Farm in Fredericktown, Ohio. Sadly, they don't have their website up and running for orders and I wasn't able to get to the Mount Vernon Farmers Market on the Square at the right time this year to score a jar for Christmas. le sigh. All I can say is this: I have never tasted a more decadent jam-ish treat in my life! Ann's has scored a few awards for some of their other concoctions.
I shape these Shortbread Cookies two ways - in discs or in logs that I cut while they are still warm. When I want to transport them, I use the discs. The log cookies can be fragile and break when someone picks them up from the cookie platter. I also learned something about the red stuff while I was making them for this blog post.
Do NOT use any commercial stuff called "jelly" to top these Shortbread Cookies. In most "thumbprint"-type cookies, the expectation is there that the jam will soften and melt from the heat that is held in the cookies. Commercial jellies contain enough pectin to keep it jelled through a nuclear blast. To make these, I only had strawberry jelly (yes, from Kroger, please don't judge me!) on hand and it was 4 AM. After I added the jelly, I put them back in the oven to warm it. Even after 10 minutes (hot ovens but turned off), the jelly wasn't soft enough to completely break down. Note to self: just don't.
This recipe for Easy Shortbread Cookies can be multiplied up to 4 times the recipe successfully. OK, I'll admit to not trying to go any higher. Once you get used to the method, they are quick to create - so quick, you can put these on a plate within an hour of receiving that holiday phone call that starts with "we were in the area and thought we'd drop by!"
Easy Shortbread Cookies
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/4 cup of your favorite red preserves or jam
1/2 cup sifted powder sugar
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-3 teaspoons milk
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Add the butter and cut it in using a pastry blender or a pair of knives until the mixture resembles crumbs. Pour the mixture onto a clean work surface. Working quickly with cool hands, knead the mixture until it holds its shape.
On an ungreased baking sheet, shape the dough into 2 logs 2 inches by 8 inches OR into discs using a walnut-sized piece of dough. Form indentations that will hold the preserves.
Bake at 325 for 20 minutes or until bottom edges are very lightly browned. Working quickly when you remove the cookies from the oven, reform the indentations with a spoon. Add a dab of preserves to each cookie or fill the trough if you made logs. Drizzle lightly with the powdered sugar glaze and allow to cool completely.
To make the powdered sugar glaze: Combine the powdered sugar and vanilla in a small bowl - it will resemble a very dry paste. Add the milk, 1 teaspoon at a time until it is thin and runny.