The first time I served these easy holiday cookies, I was desperate. We were hosting a huge party and needed something sweet to round out the menu. With about an hour to go, I grabbed a couple of logs of store-bought sugar cookie dough, sliced them as per the instructions, then divided each cookie into four pieces.
I sprinkled them with lavender salt, and baked as directed.
I was a little worried until a chef friend approached me during the party. “Please,” he asked. “Would you share your lavender shortbread recipe? Or is it a big secret? I’ll understand if it is.”
In the spirit of the holiday season, I fessed up.
The next time I made them, I worked out a homemade sugar cookie recipe to perfection based on a recipe from my friend Christine, who knows her way around a kitchen. (Christine, by the way, is one of my kids’ favorite dinner guests, because she always brings dessert.)
I like it because it keeps the dough little lighter on sugar than a lot of traditional cookie recipes, which makes it perfect for the salty-sweet balance.
But frankly, if you’re short on time or energy as so many of us are around the holidays, and you want to use the store-bought dough like I originally did, I’ll have no issues with that whatsoever.
Recipe: The easiest shortbread cookies with lavender salt
Chopping each cookie into quarters before baking serves two purposes. First, the slightly irregular shape makes them look more homemade and less “perfect,” which I like. Second, it helps make them into smaller, bite-sized cookies, perfect to set out on the bar or a side table.
Cool trick alert: Did you forget to soften your butter? Me, too! Put it in a zippered plastic bag and pound it with a rolling pin.
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
lavender salt, like Beautiful Briny Sea’s lavender salt, for sprinkling. (You can also follow Martha Stewart’s homemade lavender salt recipe if you happen to have fresh chopped lavender and fleur de sel around.)
1. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Beat in egg.
3. Add flour and drizzle vanilla, mixing all ingredients until blended. I find it quickest and easiest to do this with my hands.
4. Divide dough into two pieces and shape into 8-inch long logs, wrapping in plastic wrap.
5. Chill for 3 to 4 hours.
6. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
7. Cut log into 1/4 inch slices, cutting each slice in four if you want smaller cookies. Without flattening or pressing, place on ungreased cookie sheet.
8. Sprinkle with lavender salt.
9. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely browned around the edges.
Serve the cookies cool – I like mine with coffee or sparkling wine. Enjoy!
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