My Mother’s Shortbread

This afternoon I made my mother’s shortbread.

This is the real stuff: the-melt-in-your-mouth original. There is not a hint of cornstarch, or icing sugar, or flavour enhancement.

One cup  butter

One-half cup brown sugar.

Two cups flour.

Cream the butter and sugar until it looks whipped, and then stir in the flour until just absorbed.

Roll out.

Bake at 400 degrees, about seven minutes until just slightly browned, watching it like a hawk because it is a small recipe and you can’t bear to lose a cookie.

The queen of Christmas cookies, and my mother always treated it like gold, to be doled out through the Christmas Season in carefully measured numbers. Her shortbread container was not a cookie tin family members were welcome to dip into at will.

This afternoon I kept all the ritual.

Only make one recipe at a time-never double it.  Shortbread dough should not be overworked.  Halve the dough and roll out once (Not having my mother’s light sure pastry hand, I rolled it between waxed paper so no extra flour would be needed. )  Cut carefully into long strips and then diamond shapes with a sharp paring knife.   Move carefully to a lightly greased cookie sheet, without flipping.

They need no augmentation, but it’s Christmas so Mom often decorated her shortbread with a sliver of red or green glace cherry.  I did so this afternoon having made a special purchase of cherries for the purpose.

(Over the last year I had gradually snacked to finish the last of the cherries my mother had carefully hidden away in a back cupboard.  They had hardened to just short of sticky rocks, but with care I managed not to injure any of my teeth.)

Mom died on Boxing Day two years ago.

I think she would like to know that her shortbread is still being made with respect- after all, it contains a whole cup of real butter!


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