It’s Christmas time, and I’ve been baking cookies like a madwoman. There has to be something to leave out for Santa, after all. Yet despite all the baking, we don’t have any cookies in our house. Some have been trotted out to parties, some shared with coworkers, some sent to nurses. And some don’t have such, um, legitimate reasons for disappearing.
Like these sablés, which is a Frenchie word for shortbread, and which I used because I couldn’t resist the pun. Shortbread is nice, of course — what’s not to like about butter and sugar? But this is particularly wonderful shortbread — Christmas shortbread if you will. You still have butter and sugar, but this time it’s flavored with rosemary, which gives the cookies the faint aroma of a Christmas tree, pine nuts, which have that whiff of luxurious meatiness which makes so many holiday confections special, and orange zest, which always reminds me of Christmas, maybe because I grew up in California, and got an orange in my stocking every year.
You can roll these out and cut them into shapes but I found the dough was a bit crumbly for anything elaborate — cutting them into nice squares was a perfectly reasonable (and easy) compromise, and they still look Christmassy tied up in ribbons.
I better make more of these, or Santa won’t be happy.
If you’ve happened to pick up today’s LA Times you may have noticed that a certain someone’s Bourbon Balls were one of the top 10 recipes in the LA Times Cookie Bakeoff. Clicking on the link will allow you to see a picture of me posing foolishly with a bourbon ball in my pincer grasp, but the recipe is the same one you can find here. That’s right folks, you saw it first. Still, it was a huge thrill to appear in my home town paper and meet the editorial staff of my favorite food section!
- 2 c. all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- ⅔ c. granulated sugar
- zest of 1 orange
- ⅔ c pine nuts, toasted and loosely chopped
- 2 tsps fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add the sugar, salt and orange zest and mix again, then add the flour, pine nuts and rosemary.
- Mix until the dough holds together well and isn’t too crumbly.
- Turn the dough out onto some plastic wrap, knead a bit, divide into 2 balls, flatten them slightly, and pop it in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about a quarter inch thick.
- Cut into equal squares, 1.5-2 inches a side. Place each square on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat.
- Bake for 10-11 minutes or until the cookies are pale golden.