Happy New Year!
I hope this finds you all beginning to settle into a comfortable routine after the chaos, magic and fullness of the holiday season. I love the holidays and I always look forward to the time of year between October and December 31, but there’s something to be said for the quiet and recuperative period after the last decorations are taken down, celebratory champagne glasses clinked, and school and work resume. Yes, it’s a bit of a let down feeling, but it’s also a little exciting.
This is the time I usually take a moment to regroup and give myself a little direction. I’ll take a moment to finally look through all the magazines I haven’t gotten around to perusing. I’ll make a few plans for things I’d like to do, big or small. I’ll watch a few of the shows on my DVR from weeks or months ago. And I’ll usually treat myself to a new notebook to write it all down.
A new year is a little like a new notebook; fresh and ready to be filled, but not yet full. There’s a feeling of hope and promise because you just aren’t sure what the year will bring. My wish for you, is that this year is THE year. And by THE year, I mean the year you want it to be. The year you finally learn to play a musical instrument, stick to that workout regimen, travel more, laugh more, eat more, and love more. The year you learn to say no, you start saying yes, or you find the balance we all seek. Or maybe it’s the year you settle comfortably into your skin and accept yourself because you realize just how amazing you are, the way you are.
While you’re planning, contemplating, or simply reflecting, it’s nice to have a treat. One of my favorites is this shortbread. It’s sweet, buttery, uncomplicated, delicate, and tender yet crumbly all at the same time. It seems a fitting accompaniment to this quieter and calmer time.
Cheers to you, my readers, my friends. And here’s to good feelings, shortbread and this being THE year!
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste or Orange Zest (optional)
2 cups minus 2 teaspoons Flour
1 cup – 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Extra Sugar for sprinkling on top
Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan. I used the leftover butter wrappers and the little bit of butter left on them worked perfectly. You may use nonstick cooking spray as well.
Cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the vanilla bean paste or orange zest if using.
Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
Add flour mixture to butter and sugar. Mix on low until just combined. Press dough into baking dish with fingers.
Use a fork or a bamboo skewer to prick holes in the top of the dough and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 50 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with extra sugar while the shortbread is still warm. Let cool before cutting into bars or squares.
Store uneaten shortbread in an airtight container.
Adapted from a recipe by Jamie Oliver