Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Spiced Holiday Shortbread Cookies

My family gets together every year to bake holiday cookies.  It was really fun to see this month's Daring Baker challenge recipes since so many of them were cookies and sweets I'd never heard of. I tend to lean toward chewy rich cookies such as Christmas Spritz or Molasses Chews, but I am also a great lover of shortbread.

~The holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.~

Today, I made an orange cardamom shortbread from Peta's Brown Butter Cookie recipe.  I also made a recipe I've had on my wishlist for years:  Buttered Rum Meltaways.  Both are fairly easy to make, completely delicious and fragrantly spiced...they have the holidays written all over them!

The dough for both of these cookies can be made ahead and put in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to bake.  The Rum Meltaways are my cookie of choice for my family baking weekend this year.  I will roll up the dough in parchment paper, slide it into paper towel tubes and freeze, and pack it to go.  It will be perfect for slicing into cookies and baking once I arrive to the gathering.

Orange Cardamom Brown Butter Cookies
Based on 11 Pipers Brown Butter Short Bread, which you can find on the original Daring Bakers post here.  Makes one large 10-inch round cookie, which can be scored to break into many cookies.

1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 cup powdered sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

On the stove top, melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat. Cook the butter, stirring, until it foams up, browns and develops a nutty smell to it (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl. Set aside to cool slightly and then refrigerate until it sets up to the consistency of softened butter (1.5 hours).

Add the sugars to the browned butter and beat with a wooden spoon until it's lighter in color and smooth.  Add the orange zest, cardamom, vanilla, flour and salt and mix with a spoon for several minutes to form a crumbly dough.  Flatten the dough out on a large piece of parchment paper.  Place another piece of parchment paper on top.  Roll out dough in a large round about 1/4 inch thick between the 2 pieces of parchment paper.  Place on the baking sheet, remove the top layer of parchment and score, as desired, using a floured serrated knife or other floured implements.  Refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Bake the shortbread round on the bottom layer of parchment for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Buttered Rum Meltaways
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies. Makes 4 dozen small cookies.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup Cruzan Blackstrap Rum or other dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk flour, cornstarch, spices and salt in a large bowl. Mix 
butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Mix in rum and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in flour mixture until combined.

Divide dough in half. Place each on a piece of parchment paper; shape dough into logs, a couple inches wide. Wrap dough in parchment paper, slide it into a paper towel tube to hold its shape and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes or up to 1 month.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line large baking sheets with baking paper.

Unwrap logs. Cut into ¼ inch thick rounds and space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake until just barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool 10 minutes. Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a bowl and gently toss warm cookies in it (the cookies are not terribly fragile, you may use a spatula to help toss them and shake off excess sugar in a wire mesh basket).  Finish cooling on racks set over a baking sheet to catch the mess.

Store cookies in airtight containers at room temperature for several days or freeze for up to a month.

Enjoy!  Happy Holidays!


  1. Your shortbread sounds fantastic - I love the cardamon and orange twist. Great job!

  2. The shortbread cookies sound fantastic, just like the perfect sweet after a spicy dinner. Hmm I think those may just be in my future! Thanks for sharing. They look great!

  3. Both of your cookies look (and sound) amazing! I love the spiciness of them, and wish I could taste them! LOL. And thanks for the Leibster award! I'm working on it, I promise, I feel so behind! :)

  4. these look very nice. Thanks for linking them in. Have a good week.


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