It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

The Christmas baking machine is slowing powering up. Project number one on Sunday night was a batch of Espresso Mocha Shortbread, a slice-and-bake treat I’ve been making every year for approximately the last 20 years. I think I found the recipe in Chatelaine magazine. It’s super easy and Seabass’ favourite holiday goodie:

Wanna try the finest shortbread in the land yourself? Here goes:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tsp espresso (or strong coffee), at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp ground espresso beans
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Cream butter with sugar until fluffy, beat in liquid coffee, vanilla and almond extract. Stir together flour, cocoa, ground coffee and salt. Blend into butter mixture. On waxed paper, shape half the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch square and 10″ long, using a bench scraper to square off the edges. Wrap tightly in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat for second half of dough. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 20-22 minutes or until firm or lightly browned on bottom. Press lightly into granulated sugar. Let cool on racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 2 weeks (they never last that long though – just too yummy!). Makes about 32 cookies.

Tonight, I whipped up the dough for another family favourite: gingerbread cookies. This recipe is also at least 20 years old and I think I found it in Canadian Living. I love this recipe because they’re a little spicier than most other gingerbread cookie recipes. Also, I like to roll them out on the thick side – that way they’re more chewy rather than crispy. I like to cut them into star and snowflake shapes and decorate with royal icing and dragees. I’m not baking them tonight but will post pictures when they’re done.

Here’s the recipe if either of my two readers are interested:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of ground cloves
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (best quality)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Measure flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and cloves in a medium sized bowl, whisk until well combined, set aside.

Cream butter in a mixmaster bowl with sugar until very creamy. Gradually add molasses and beat until well blended, scraping sides frequently. Stir in flour mixture until well blended.

Split dough into 2 halves, form into disks about 1″ thick and refrigerate for 30 minutes (over overnight). Roll out about 1/4″ thick on lightly floured surface. Dip cookie cutters into flour and cut out dough. Using spatula, transfer cutouts to parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, placing about 2″ apart.

Bake in centre of preheated over about 8-10 minutes or just until set. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling scraps as often as needed. Cookies keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for months. They also freeze well. Makes approximately 4 dozen 2-inch cookies.

Question? Comments? Let me hear from you!