Handmade, edible hostess gifts will make you a favourite guest at any holiday gathering. Jazz up a classic shortbread by dipping them in melted chocolate and sprinkling with pistachios, dried cranberries and crushed peppermint candies for an easy yet elegant gift.
White Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies
1 cup (225 grams) butter, softened
3 tablespoons (25 grams) cornstarch
¼ cup (55 grams) white sugar
1 ¾ cups (315 grams) all purpose flour
10 ounces (285 grams) white chocolate, melted
1/2 cup (60 grams) shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup (60 grams) dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup (60 grams) peppermint candy, coarsely crushed
• Preheat oven to 275F (140C).
• In a large bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one), beat butter until fluffy; gradually beat in cornstarch, then sugar.
• Gradually beat in flour, about 1/4 cup (50 mL) at a time.
• Once all flour has been added and dough is starting to come together, use your hands to shape it into a ball and remove the dough from the bowl.
• Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and press it into a disk about 8" (20 cm) wide by 1" inch (2.5 cm) thick. Wrap tightly and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. This will make the dough easier to roll out.
• Put the chilled dough between two large sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to ¼" (5 mm) thickness.
• Using a 2" (5 cm) round cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Reroll dough as needed to get approximately 4 dozen cookies.
• Place cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and gently prick the surface of each one 3 times with a fork. Freeze until firm. (Shortbread can be prepared to this point and stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one month)
• When ready to bake, place frozen cookies on baking sheet.
• Bake in preheated oven for 35 - 40 minutes until firm and just barely beginning to turn golden brown.
• Remove cookies from baking sheets and let cool on wire racks. At this point the cookies can also be frozen; be sure to thaw them before dipping.
• To top baked shortbread, place cookies on a wire cooling rack.
• Melt white chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl set over a simmering pan of water - just be sure the bowl does not touch the hot water). Stir often as it melts. When no lumps remain, you are ready to dip but if the chocolate seems too thick, gradually stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to thin the chocolate slightly.
• Dip the tops of the cookies, one at a time, into melted chocolate and place back on the wire rack. Let sit until slightly set, about 2 - 3 minutes.
• Sprinkle with chopped pistachios, cranberries and/or peppermint candy. I like one type of topping per cookie but you can mix and match if you like.
• Let stand at room temperature until chocolate hardens completely, about 20 minutes. If they are not hardening, put in the fridge for 5 - 10 minutes.
Makes 4 dozen cookies