Christmas Isn't Christmas Without... Shortbread

Forget the tins of Danish shortbread cookies; they're junk. If you want some really good shortbread, you can ask me nicely, and I may rouse myself to look for my mother's recipe and make it for you. I once gave it to a high school friend for her birthday, it's that good. The butter and sugar content are the reason, and I'm not going to tell you just how much of both are in the recipe because then you'd never eat it for fear of what your doctor will say.
A search on Pinterest will reveal shortbread recipes with candied flowers, or pecans and bourbon. None of this is needed. Trust me: butter, sugar, and flour. Melt the butter, stir in the sugar, and the flour and smooth into a sheet pan. Prick all over with a fork and bake at 350 Fahrenheit, for 30 minutes (which is what my mother bakes everything at). When you take it out of the oven, cut it into squares with a knife, this you definitely want to do fresh out of the oven while it's still malleable. Then dress it up any way you'd like. But I should warn you: the proper Grabowska presentation is to sprinkle sanding sugar on top. They always reminded me of buttons like that. A napkin, or helpful critter, is absolutely necessary because these cookies crumble like they're the polar ice caps.

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King Arthur has the closest recipe, but the method diverges from watching my mother make this. Flora, however, is not known  for following directions. One year, when buying holiday baking supplies, she purchased an enormous bag of corn flour to make shortbread with. I can't remember why; she thought it was the same thing as corn starch? I made a batch to take to my boyfriend's grandparents, but when I sampled some it was not right. No doubt the only person who would've noticed was me, but that was reason enough to make another batch and feed the corn-short-bread to the birds.
My favorite mention of the cookie is from an English book series that I was fascinated with in middle school: The Famous Five. There's a scene in the second book, Five Go Adventuring Again, where these precocious, rosy-cheeked, boarding school educated English children are searching a farmhouse for a secret entrance while munching homemade shortbread and drinking hot chocolate. If that doesn't sound like a Christmas Card scene, I don't know what does.
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