So this holiday season, I went looking for something different to do for baked goodies. Banana and pumpkin breads, as well as my usual cookie batches of Chocolate Chip, Chocolate White Chip and Ma's Styrofoams, would still be made, but I was looking to change things up a bit. I found this basic shortbread recipe in an old cookbook I had sitting for years in my kitchen bookshelf. They are also known as "icebox" or "refrigerator" cookies because the dough is chilled (in this case frozen) so that it's easier to slice up individual cookies. Now that I've made dozens of batches of these, I quickly discovered that I reeeeeeeaaaallly like making them. They're neater than any other cookie I've ever made because once the dough is made and rolled up in plastic, there's no scooping, rolling out & cutting, etc. You just slice, garnish and bake. Done. I *LOVE* that!
So here's the basic recipe I found. There's no variation needed for high altitude (thank goodness!) but if you vary it by flavor additive, then you'll need to adjust accordingly. See below for links to the variations I did.
(On a related note/idea...needing a standalone yolk for this cookie dough means you're left with a standalone egg white. If you make 2 batches of these cookies, of any variation, then you can easily save those whites to make Ma's Styrofoam Cookies. It's perfect, because then nothing's wasted!)
2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
1 C super-fine (baker's) sugar
½ tsp salt
1 lg egg yolk
1 lg whole egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 ½ C flour
Decorative sugar (optional)
Cream butter, sugar and salt at high speed. Add yolk, beat another minute, add whole egg, beat again another minute. Add vanilla, beat again. Add flour, beat on low until dough has been mixed thoroughly and starts to cling to the paddle.
Remove, divide in half. Roll half the dough into a log, about 1½ in diameter, repeat with remaining dough.
Wrap each log in plastic and place in freezer. Freeze for at least 1 hour or until firm. (Can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.) When logs are firm, take out 10-15 minutes ahead of time to thaw a little while oven heats up. Preheat oven to 325°F. Slice dough into ½- to ¾-in thick pieces and place slices onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. If desired, sprinkle a little decorative sugar on top. Bake for 19-20 minutes; do not overbake to the point where the edges start to brown or else cookies will end up hard and tough.
For variations on this basic cookie recipe, see Lemon Shortbread, Almond Shortbread, and Chocolate Shortbread versions.