The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 12.21.02


Santa's Shortbread

Is there anything that makes a recipe better than butter?

I think not. Unless you are absolutely housebound I would never recommend substituting margarine for butter in any recipe, as the final result will reveal your deed. Butter is essential for full flavored goodness and should be treated as such. Especially when it comes to baking all those Christmas cookies and treats.

If you are feeling bad that animal oils are not good for you, then take heart. Recent studies suggest that butter is less harmful than hydrogenated vegetable fats. Margarine lobbyists are not pleased and will attempt to convince you with a myriad of advertisements that their product is healthier, but the proof is in the pudding so to speak.

Butter makes things buttery and if you love real shortbread then you will agree. My mom made shortbread cookies every Christmas and there were never enough. Four kids and Dad made sure that every batch was devoured long before Santa's visit. In fact, I am sure Santa may have been disappointed with what was eventually left for him on Christmas Eve. I am going to leave a dozen of these cookies out for him this year in the hopes that he brings that 54- inch television for me. This recipe should butter him up.

Santa's Shortbread

1/2 pound of butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1-cup cornstarch
2 cups or less all-purpose flour

Mix butter and sugar until creamy, and then add cornstarch. Mix well. Gradually add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough starts to hold its shape and is easy to roll out. Roll out dough, and then cut with a cookie cutter (2-inch biscuit cutters work very well). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until cookies are slightly browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle sugar on top.

Makes 18 cookies, depending on size of cookie cutter.