Every year, my older sister has us over during the holidays for a massive baking day. We usually begin after lunch time and then bake and eat cookies at least through dinner. It’s the kind of day that I look back on fondly and warmly. I remember laughing with my sisters and frosting treats together. It would be ripe for a movie montage… us, laughing in aprons and getting flour all over our adorable faces and laughing like Liz Lemon laughing like Julia Roberts.
However, when I’m actually in the day, I usually look like crap (in fact, last year, I scrambled because my roof started leaking that morning) and, by the end of the day, I’m hungry like the wolf for some celery because I’ve eaten a should-be-illegal amount of sugar and butter. Knowing there would probably be strangers present and potentially pictures being taken, I decided to eliminate any cookie stress and focus instead on trimming my bangs so that I looked decent.
What’s my least favorite, most stressful baking task? Rolling things out with a rolling pin. Usually, when you’re using a rolling pin, your dough is frozen, or at least super-cold. And that basically the dumbest idea ever. Here, roll out this frozen disk of butter and flour– oh, and keep it cold or else you’re a failure and nothing will taste good. This year, I was going to avoid rolling out any dough, so help me God! Oh, and I wasn’t going to go grocery shopping. Zen.
So, I thought shortbread. Shortbread is so simple and so good. You really only need a couple ingredients, which I believed I had. No, I didn’t actually check. More on that later. After a minute or two of Googling, I came across a few recipes for Austrian shortbread. The recipes all used this technique I’d heard about for pie crusts; instead of rolling out your dough, you grate it with a cheese grater! With a pie plate, you then press the dough in. With the Asutrian shortbread, you don’t even have to do that part. We had a winner!
I ended up following this recipe most closely. But not exactly because I wasn’t going to the store, and it turned out I didn’t have enough sugar. I used 1 cup of sugar, and about 1/3 cup brown sugar instead of the 2 cups white sugar. That worked totally fine (actually, I couldn’t imagine being that much sweeter!). Also, I forgot that I had no confectioner’s sugar, so I dusted the top with hot cocoa mix. I’m laughing out loud to myself, because that sounds so silly and lazy, but these cookies were delightful. And when I arrived at the cookie swap, all I had to do was cut them into squares and then drink wine– and eat celery! Life is good.