Meeeee luvvvvvv cooooookiessss!

My super-duper sleuthing has uncovered the fact that Eli Zabar’s shortbread recipe is published over and over again throughout the Barefoot library in different variations. Shortbread hearts, linzer cookies, shortbread cookies with dragés…it’s all the same shortbread.

Granted it’s just four ingredients and it’s yummy, but I like making these because there are few things more fun than using cookie cutters! Takes me back to little cans of Play-Doh (“Doh!” ““ how Homer Simpsonian!), a tiny rolling pin and plastic cookie cutters. I haven’t made these cookies in ages, and I was so happy to find my worn bag of steel cutters in different shapes and sizes. (My favorite cutters? Four copper ones in the shapes of my boys’ hands when they were preschoolers. So cute!)

And, of course, the other gratification with these shortbread cookies is that I get to use one of my rolling pins. About a dozen years ago, when I was pregnant, on bedrest and addicted to eBay, I started a cool vintage rolling pin collection. I had a wall-mounted display built for them, and I love to use them and imagine the rich history each of them has had. Some are tiny toy rolling pins, one is glass that you fill with ice water for pastry dough, some have cutouts, and two are very simple and nearly identical ““ one was my great-grandmother’s and its twin was David’s grandmother’s. They must’ve lived in nearby shtetls! (Look at the vertical pin and the one two above it.)

Anywho. My biggest mistake with the cookies was trying to cram two batches of dough into the Kitchen-Aid. Not one of my finest moments. I did manage to get the dough to come together, however, and wised up by splitting it in half to chill and eventually roll.

Now, one of my pet peeves has always been the photo of beautiful chocolate-dipped shortbread hearts in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, without any mention of chocolate in the recipe. I remember trying to melt good chocolate and dip cookies in that, but of course, the chocolate would never temper. This time I melted chocolate chips, which contain stabilizers that harden up again. Bingo.

I also saw that my local grocery store sells silver dragés, so I bought some of those too, and decided to make a variety of shapes and decorations. The dragés were fun ““ you have to “paint” on some “glue” made from confectioner’s sugar and water, and then you sprinkle the dragés onto the cookies. As the sugar glaze dries, the silver balls stick. My kids were fascinated by them, as was my four-year-old niece, who made me tell her twice just how I made the cookies. She licked one of the dragés and found that it was white underneath, prompting her to say, “I have some Tic-Tacs in my pocketbook. Sometimes I suck on an orange one and then when I take it out of my mouth, it’s white. That’s just like this!” You betcha, cutie!

The platter of cookies was a big hit at our holiday dinner last weekend. They pretty much please everyone ““ folks looking for a chocolate hit, folks who don’t want chocolate, folks who don’t eat nuts. They’re sophisticated enough for adults and playful enough for kids. Shortbread cookies rock!

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