We've added a subtle blend of spices to basic shortbread for extra festive flavour. If you wish, omit the spice to adapt the dough to an endless number of recipes.
- Prep time 1 hour
- Total time 3 hours & 30 minutes
Shortbread Dough: In stand mixer with paddle attachment, or in large bowl using wooden spoon, beat together butter, icing sugar and vanilla until fluffy. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg; stir into butter mixture just until combined. Divide dough in half; shape into discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm but not hard, about 45 minutes.
Between waxed or parchment paper, roll out dough to scant 1/4-inch (5 mm) thickness. Using 3-inch (8 cm) snowflake-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes, rerolling scraps as necessary. Arrange, 2 inches (5 cm) apart, on parchment paper–lined rimless baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in 325°F (160°C) oven until bottoms and edges are light golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pans. (Make-ahead: Layer between waxed paper in airtight container; store at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.)
Ombré Icing: In bowl, whisk icing sugar with milk until smooth. Holding each cookie by edges, press top onto surface of icing to coat, letting excess drip back into bowl. Let dry on racks for 30 minutes.
Stir 1 tsp water into remaining icing; divide among 3 small bowls. Using food colouring, tint 1 bowl of the icing light blue, tint second bowl medium shade of blue and tint final bowl dark blue.
Leaving bottom quarter of each cookie white and using small paintbrush, brush 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide horizontal stripe of the light blue icing over second quarter of each cookie; let dry for 10 minutes. Brush 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide stripe of the medium blue icing over third quarter of each cookie, slightly overlapping light blue stripe; let dry for 10 minutes. Brush 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide stripe of the dark blue icing over final quarter of each cookie, slightly overlapping medium blue stripe; let dry for 10 minutes. (Make-ahead: Layer between waxed paper in airtight container; store at room temperature for up to 3 days.)
Tip from The Test Kitchen: To prevent the icing from drying out, cover the bowls with a damp towel when not in use. If necessary, add a few drops of water to the icing to thin it out.
Makes about 30 cookies.
Nutritional facts per cookie: about
- Sodium 43 mg
- Sugars 10 g
- Protein 1 g
- Calories 121.0
- Total fat 6 g
- Potassium 13 mg
- Cholesterol 16 mg
- Saturated fat 4 g
- Total carbohydrate 16 g
- Iron 3.0
- Folate 5.0
- Calcium 1.0
- Vitamin A 5.0