Merry Christmas, my dear friends near and far! I hope this Christmas is marked by delicious food, reconnecting with the people you cherish, and a dash of God's touch in whatever area you've been struggling with this year. It has been such a blessed year in the Betzen household, albeit a bit of a pandemonium. But of the best kind.
I haven't much time because mothering, church involvement, and a slew of other things that need my attention are calling right now. Quite literally. So, without further ado, here is one of my new favorite shortbread cookies for you. I tested them several times (and ate them several times) with different sugar ratios because every type of sugar, which in this particular case we are talking about brown, granulated, and confectioner's sugar, creates different results in terms of flavor and texture. Texture, however, reigns when trying to attain the perfect shortbread cookie for me. What is your criteria for a good cookie, by the way?
These adorable snowflake cookies are lovingly made with all kinds of aromatic spices like cloves and cardamom to name a few. My goal was to make them somewhat reminiscent of pfeffernusse (peppernuts) cookies--a traditional German cookie that I've fallen in love with eight Christmases ago while I was visiting Greg's family in Kansas. The texture? Well intact with a strong bite, yet so wonderfully buttery and a soft crumb. Give it a go because it is truly simple, quick, and straightforward. If you don't have all the spices readily available simply use cinnamon or ginger.
Pfeffernusse Shortbread Cookies for Christmas
Makes 12-16 depending on size of each cookie
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
8 star anise seeds, crushed (optional)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Stir flour, salt, spices, and crushed star anise in a large mixing bowl. In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter and all three sugars until it is smooth and creamy.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 2 or three increments, gently mixing with a wooden spoon or with your hands, but without over mixing. Just enough to get the dough going. Form into a ball, seal with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Take it out of the fridge, roll out the dough on a cold flat surface with a rolling pin, sprinkling with dustings of flour if necessary, and make sure it is about 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and even make imprints if you so desire. Place each shape on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven and on the size of your cookie cut-outs. Let them cool and harden up into these wonderful shortbread cookies!