Every December I share my Grandmother's recipe for shortbread cookies. Many folks enjoy shortbread year round, but I always associate this cookie with the Christmas holidays.

Every year when we were kids, my mom corralled all four of us into making and decorating shortbread cookies to give to our teachers, as thanks for putting up with us in school. She made the dough and rolled it out, and we had the more enjoyable task of cutting out and decorating the cookies, using a selection of homemade buttercream icing in a rainbow of garish colours, and various sprinkles.

We’d put them on fancy Christmas paper plates, cover them in plastic wrap, and trundle off to school with them, usually with a Christmas ornament on top. Want to guess what my favourite icing colour was? If you guessed blue, you’d be correct. To be honest, the cookies looked kinda awful, but they were certainly made with heart. 💙

A couple of years ago I had my niece Stella over for a visit around the holidays and we had a fun afternoon making and decorating cookies. They were just as tasty as I remember them! 

Anyway, here's the cookie recipe. It's pretty simple, but delicious:

Grandma’s Shortbread:

1 cup butter (I use salted)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups pastry flour

Cream the butter and sugar together, then slowly mix in the flour. Roll out on a wooden surface, using extra flour as needed. Cut into shapes, and cook at 275 F for 45-60 min (low and slow means they are less likely to burn). Cool on a rack then decorate as you see fit.

Most shortbread recipes call for icing sugar, but brown sugar gives these a nice caramelly flavour.

If you give them a try let me know what you think! 

Prefer a cookie that is a little less conventional? I made these NYTimes Gochujang Caramel Cookies last year and they were surprisingly delicious!

Want a cocktail to pair with your shortbread? Here’s my version of an Old Fashioned—it was one of our official beverages for the Makers’ Spark Membership holiday party.

The Makers’ Spark Old Fashioned Eh? 

  • 2 oz Maker's Mark Bourbon
  • 3-5 Dashes Bitters (Orange bitters are perfect if you have them)
  • 1-2 tsp. Maple Syrup (depends on how sweet you like it)
  • Candied ginger
  • Maraschino cherry
  • Ice

Put some ice in your favourite handmade cup, then add the bitters, bourbon, and maple syrup and stir. Garnish with candied ginger and a maraschino cherry. Enjoy!

Prefer a taller bubbly cocktail to sip on? Top with some ginger beer or soda.

December 13, 2023 — Naomi Clement