Making shortbread into little buttons takes a little time, but not as much as you would think. And how loved your guests will feel when you present them with a sweet little homemade favor of tiny cookies in a glassine bag.
• 1/2 pound salted butter, softened
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 2 cups flour
• dash salt
• 1/4 tsp baking powder
• for the chocolate version, add 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder to half of the mixed-up dough
• optional flavorings:
1/4 tsp almond
1/4 tsp vanilla
zest from 1/2 grated lemon
1 tsp instant coffee
1/4 cup instant “malted milk”
Set oven at 350˚. Beat the butter until smooth and creamy, add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together, then add it gradually to the butter mixture just until blended. Take out half the dough, and to the remaining dough in the mixer, add the cocoa powder. Mix until thoroughly blended. Divide each portion of dough, the light one and the chocolate one, into four equal pieces. I used a scale to be accurate. You end up with a little more chocolate dough on account of the cocoa you added; keep this as a separate portion and use for another purpose. If, with handling, the dough becomes soft, refrigerate briefly to firm up. Then roll each portion into a log that measures 5/8 inches in diameter. You may want to change the diameter to fit your container. Roll each log up in a piece of wax paper, and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
When cutting into cookies, handle one half of the dough at a time, keeping the rest refrigerated. Starting with the chocolate logs, unwrap them and lay out side by side, lining up their ends. Allow to warm up for just a few minutes. Using a ruler, trim off the ends and score at 1” intervals. Then score at each half-inch interval. If you feel comfortable, you can slice without marking at the 1/4” intervals. That’s what I did. I just cut halfway between each interval as well as at the scores. This way you get 1/4” thick cookies. Lay the cut cookie pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving a little room in between.
Now it is time to poke the four holes in the cookies. Break a round toothpick in half. Smooth out the broken ends with your fingers or by rubbing the ends on the counter to get the splinters off. You can make holes in the cookies one at a time by poking with the flat end of the toothpick in four places in each cookie. I did this for a while and then wondered if there was a faster way to do it. So I broke a second toothpick in half, and using three toothpick halves – the middle one shorter, for a spacer – held them firmly and poked into a cookie. This worked great; I got two holes for the effort of one! After this, two pokes got four holes in the cookies. If I were to make a lot of these cookies, I would probably glue up a nice little 4-prong hole-poker. It would be fun.
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 – 9 minutes until the white ones are just barely brown on the edges. The cookies will expand slightly as they bake, so if they are to fit a specific container, do test bakes until you achieve the right size.
Allow to cool thoroughly on a rack before packaging.