Whether it’s the wafting smell of baking bread, or the indulgent taste of chocolate chip cookie dough; the memories of a special birthday cake, or the fragrance of a homemade apple pie...no form of cooking evokes quite the same emotion, satisfaction and sensory experience as baking at home. For so many families, baking is certainly one of our most cherished culinary traditions, with recipes and time-honored techniques passed down through generations.
Since our children were toddlers, an annual Easter tradition in our home has been Decorated Easter Shortbread Cookies. These sophisticated yet deliciously simple cookies make a fun, creative project for all ages. The cookies themselves are delicious, and the shapes and decorating are limited only by your imagination. For Easter, we opt for Easter Bunnies and creatively decorated Easter Eggs. But there’s really no limit to the year-round occasions and themes you can celebrate with this fantastic cookie.
You can make this project especially fun with the Mom & Me Baking Gift Setwhich includes the JK Adams “My Favorite” Rolling pin for bakers of all ages and a Red Mini Roller made especially for the smaller hands of the child baker. At just $29, the set also includes our four most popular Vermont-made cookie cutters - bunny, gnome, llama and unicorn!
Over the years, we have tested a number of shortbread recipes, and none have been as consistently reliable, perfectly textured and delicious as this variation on a Martha Stewart recipe. We use a tried and true family buttercream recipe for the frosting, tinted multiple colors with simple food coloring. Put the baked cookies and colorful frostings all on a table and let the decorating begin. Bet you can’t finish before eating one!
Decorated Easter Shortbread Cookies
Serves: About 4 dozen
- For The Cookies
- 1-1/3 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- For The Buttercream Frosting
- 4 cups Powdered Sugar (or 1 pound)
- 1 cup Butter (Softened Salted Sweet Cream)
- 2-3 teaspoons Vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons Milk
To Make The Cookies
Combine butter and sugar in bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle and mix until creamy. Add vanilla to blend.
Sift flour and cornstarch together into a separate bowl, then mix it thoroughly into the butter & sugar mixture.
Turn the dough out and form it into a 1" thick flat disc.
Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Break the disc of dough roughly into quarters and work each in batches, warming each portion slightly with your hands at first to make it pliable, then roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to 1/8" thickness.
Cut desired shapes from the dough using your favorite shaped cookie cutters. Re-roll leftover dough to yield more shapes. Repeat process with each quarter of the dough.
Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 5 to 8 minutes.
Be careful not to overcook. These cookies should be very pale in color when fully baked. Do not let the edges begin to brown.
Carefully remove cookies from baking sheet to a rack and let cool thoroughly before frosting.
To Make The Frosting
Beat butter in mixer and add vanilla.
Meanwhile sift sugar. Alternate between milk and sugar as you add slowly to mixer. Add more milk if need to get the consistency you are looking for to frost the cookies.
Divide the frosting into small bowls or ramekins, one for each color. In each, add a single drop of food coloring at a time to get the shade of color you desire. Be careful not to use too much food color - you can always add more but can't remove it! For light pastels, instead of a full drop, you may want to lightly touch a toothpick into the food color and swipe it into the frosting and mix thoroughly, repeating as needed to gradually achieve the desired colors.
To Frost The Cookies
Coat each cookie with a solid color frosting, then decorate with alternate color frostings in plastic frosting bags fitted with your choice of various decorating tips.
Arrange cookies on a beautiful plate or wooden platter and serve.