Let it Begin
The Christmas season has begun in earnest for us. Up until this past Sunday (the first Sunday of Advent), I’ve felt a bit like I’ve been snitching cookies from the platter, sneaking in bits of Christmas where I can. I always start getting into the spirit “early.” By mid November, I’m normally chomping at the bit, listening to music, putting out the odd decoration… This year has been different. Every day in November saw at least one of us sick. My right eardrum ruptured, the left ear plugged and I was largely unable to hear for over a week (I still don’t have all of my hearing back, but it’s phenomenally better). Christmas music was fairly pointless, and without that auditory trigger, my festive spirit was muted. The day my left ear cleared enough to hear the joyful strains of Sleigh Ride, I danced around the kitchen. Then it snowed. I wasn’t even pining for it. I’ve become so accustomed to it staying green through until near Christmas that I was caught so off guard that the kids didn’t even have boots. Then we got a dog….
Quietly Easing In
So Christmas preparations have come quietly (literally and figuratively). We put up our tree and my sister and the kids put the lights on. Hubby was sick, so the kids and I decorated it. Then he started feeling better and we got the rest up by Sunday. And now, the baking has begun.
An Old Favourite
I started making these butter nut shortbread cookies nearly two decades ago. They are rich, with a deep nutty flavour and a light, crumbly texture. They are very similar to Greek Kouriabiedes, which are often made with almonds. Mine have walnuts, but pecans would also be great. I’d stopped making them when our son was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. But now, I can buy shelled local walnuts from a peanut free grower through a food co-op that we’re a part of. I got a pound of black walnuts yesterday, and made a batch of these today.
Butter Nut Shortbread
2 cups soft salted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 cups all purpose flour
icing sugar for dredging
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the nuts and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until coarse crumbs form.
If your kitchen is quite warm, chill the dough slightly. Otherwise scoop out the dough by the teaspoon, and press firmly into balls. Press very lightly onto a parchment lined tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes until light golden.
While still warm, dredge the cookies in icing sugar. The warmth will melt the sugar slightly. You can re-roll them when cool for a really nice coating. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 7 dozen.