I love having a cookie buffet. That’s what we made last year for Christmas instead of having a couple big desserts. It worked perfectly because everyone got to try lots of different flavors and I had something sweet to send home with my guests.
These easy shortbread cookies are one of my go-to cookie recipes for the holidays. You can make them ahead of time and add mix-ins to create all different kinds of cookies with just one dough.
Continuing the cookie buffet tradition this year, I whipped up a double batch of this shortbread cookie dough. Making this up and freezing it ahead of time helps lessen meal prep on the big day. Plus, I can easily create 4 different flavors of cookie from just one batch of dough.
Easy Shortbread Cookies
1 Cup Unsalted Softened Butter
2/3 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Egg Yolks
1/4 Teas Baking Powder
2 Cups Flour
My daughter Emma helped me whip up the dough. She added the softened butter first and whipped it until it was creamy.
Next she put in the sugar and whipped it until it was smooth. Then added the extract and eggs and mixed until they were incorporated.
The flour and baking powder were last and she mixed it up until it just disappeared. You don’t want to mix the dough too much with the mixer after adding the flour. If any flour is left, just mix it with a spatula when you add your mix-ins.
Use 1 cup of dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, candy or a combination to create your favorite flavors. You can also add any spices, extra extracts or zests. I usually split my dough in half and make two different kinds of cookies, using 1/2 cup of mix-ins in each mound of dough. You could also try splitting it up into 4 mounds and adding 1/4 cup of mix-ins to each. This time I made a double batch and 4 different kinds. Here are the flavors I tried:
Cranberry Pistachio: 1/4 cup dried cranberries chopped and 1/4 cup shelled pistachios finely chopped
Mini Chocolate Chip: 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Brown Sugar Pecan: 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Sprinkles: 1/2 cup sprinkles separated in half; 1/4 cup stirred in and 1/4 cup used to roll the cookies in
Other mix-ins that would taste great:
dried apricots, dried cherries, almonds, almond extract, peppermint candies, toffee pieces, lemon zest, lemon extract, lemon head candies, cinnamon chips (chopped), poppy seeds.
After mixing my flavors, I put the dough in plastic wrap and chilled it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. You could also try putting it in the freezer to make it a little quicker.
Then I formed my dough into 1 and 1/4 inch logs and wrapped them in plastic and wax paper. I put mine in the refrigerator for 2 hours, but again, you could speed that up by putting the logs in the freezer. If I’m not baking any cookies that day, I keep my dough in the freezer. It can be kept there for up to a month!
To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you’re working with frozen dough, put the cookies in the refrigerator the day before, or leave them on the counter for 30 minutes. If you want to coat the outside of the cookies with some mix-ins, do that now and then cut them into generous 1/4 inch thick slices.
Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a non-stick mat about 1 inch apart and bake them for 12-14 minutes, trying not to let them get brown on the edges.
Cool them on a wire wrack and try not to devour them before your guests come! With the cranberry pistachio ones, that was really hard to do!
Sometimes I make this dough just to have cookies on hand. To bake a little at a time, I slice off a frozen chunk and put it in the refrigerator to defrost.
What flavors would you try?