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eat it, don't wear it edible gift ideas
Lindsay McElderry | 1 2 3 4 5
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shortbread cookies, two ways
This dough can be difficult to work with if it gets too warm, but if you are patient the results are worth it. The recipe is very versatile -- I have even used it as a tart crust -- so I have included two variations here, which enables you to get two very different types of cookies from one recipe.

3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
pinch salt

electric stand mixer or hand-held mixer
plastic wrap
rolling pin
baking sheet

1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2 In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a medium sized mixing bowl if you are using a hand-held mixer), beat butter and sugar until they are combined well, then mix in the vanilla.
3 Sift together the flour and salt and add them to the butter and sugar, mixing on low until the dough comes together (don't over-mix).
4 Dust your work surface with flour and shape the dough into a flat disk, about 1" thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
5 Remove the cold dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Also dust your rolling pin with some flour and roll the dough out to 1/4" thick. I usually prefer to work with half of the dough at a time, and if the dough is really cold you might have to knead it a little before rolling it out. Don't overwork the dough, because the warmer it gets, the more difficult it is to work with. If the dough gets too warm, return it to the fridge for a while.
6 Using a cookie cutter, cut shapes out of the dough and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or just until the edges brown (the baking time varies depending on the temperature of the dough, the thickness of your cookies, and other things such as your oven, so be sure to watch them carefully!). Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing them from the baking sheet. Let the cookies cool to room temperature before decorating or packaging.

variation 1
To make filled cookies, spread a small amount of fruit jam on top of one cookie, place another cookie on top,s and dust with confectioner's sugar.
variation 2
To make chocolate dipped cookies, melt 12 ounces of chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave at 30- second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Dip cooled cookies halfway into chocolate, let excess drip off, and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet to set up.

You can package cookies in tins lined with parchment paper or decorated wax paper, or place them in plain or decorative plastic gift bags tied with ribbon. The cookies also look great arranged on a platter for guests.

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