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Holiday Spice Shortbread

Have you gotten to the end of your nerves pushing through holiday crowds just to get bananas? Is your patience dry from enduring the endless barrage of advertising? Are you seeking something a little slower, a little sweeter, a little simpler? I don’t propose that a good batch of shortbread is going to fix all of your holiday woes, but it sure does ease the burden.


I have always, always been a fan of shortbread. There is no Paleo substitute for real shortbread, and so it’s one of those dietary losses that I simply have to mourn–along with Baklava, smoked Gouda cheese, and fried chicken. But I still take joy in making it, and sharing it.

Shortbread is so simple to make. It uses 4  ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen (butter, flour, sugar, salt). Now I’m usually a whole-wheat-flour, unrefined-sweetener, wholesome kind of baker. But at Christmas, I do pull out all the stops. Our family chooses one or two things in which to indulge, and we indulge fully. And so I reached way into the back of my cupboard for the bag of white flour and white sugar.


This year, I spiced up our usual recipe to include a generous amount of holiday spices: cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, and mace. You can try different ones, according to your preferences. I think some cardamom would be lovely, and was even thinking about trying a version with Chinese 5-Spice Powder. A small amount gets mixed into the cookie dough, and the rest gets sprinkled over the top in a sweet and spicy crusty topping.


Shortbread is perfect for those who are not naturally inclined towards baking, or for those who get distracted in the middle of baking and forget what they’re doing–not that I’d know anything about that. All the ingredients go into the stand mixer at the same time (use a paddle attachment, if you have one). Mix it on low so that the flour doesn’t escape the bowl, and increase the speed as the ingredients become incorporated. Stop the mixer once it all starts to stick together into one lump.

Once everything is combined, press the dough into a greased baking dish. You can either use a 9″ round dish or a 9″ square dish, depending on what’s in your cupboard and what shape pieces you want in the end. Since my recipe was intended for gift-giving, I opted for the square pan which yields more pieces. The sugar and spice mix gets pressed gently into the top and then it gets baked until it turns a lovely golden brown. Once it’s cooled, you can cut it into pieces (I cut 16 squares and then divided them into triangles).


Everyone will be so delighted by this buttery, flaky, sweet and spicy, goodie. I promise. Though I’m not going to tell if you make a big cup of tea and eat it all yourself.

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Christmas Spice Shortbread

Adapted from a Sunset magazine recipe. <br> <br>So easy and yummy! Tons of variations.

Source: Erin at Plan to Eat

Course: Treats (Bars, Balls, and Cookies)

Yield: Makes 32 cookies



  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter cubed
  • 12 cup granulated sugar
  • 14 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 12 tsp cinnamon
  • 14 tsp clove
  • 14 tsp ginger
  • 14 tsp nutmeg
  • 14 tsp mace


  1. Butter a 9″ round or 9″ square baking dish. (9″ round will give you 16 wedge-shaped pieces; 9″ square will give you 32 triangle-shaped pieces) Set aside.
  2. Mix together the topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°. Put flour, butter, granulated sugar, salt, and 1 tsp of the sugar and spice mix in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix gently on low speed until blended, then increase to medium and mix until dough is no longer crumbly and just comes together.
  4. Press dough evenly into prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining sugar and spice mixture on top and press gently into the dough.
  5. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pan, and then turn out gently onto a cutting board. Slice round shortbread into 16 wedges. Slice square shortbread into 16 squares, and then into 32 triangles. Store airtight for up to 5 days.

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