A cookie passed down through generations is big on flavor and makes the tastiest, cutest gifts.
Jenny Forrer and her husband, Dave, live in Independence and are known for entertaining and serving luscious foods. In addition, Jenny enjoys cooking for others at her church, and yearly she cooks with her PEO chapter, a philanthropic organization, for Drumm Farm Center for Children in Independence.
Q: Your shortbread cookie recipe has been passed down through several generations. What is the history of the recipe?
A: This recipe came from my paternal grandmother, who was Scottish, and she served the shortbread cookies every afternoon with a cup of tea or glass of sherry. She handed the recipe down to my parents, and I have been making them for 40 years.
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Q: You mention that you have lived in other countries and cities. How does that influence your selection of this recipe?
A: I was born in Cuba, as my father worked in the sugar industry. I then lived in New Orleans, Vancouver and finally Wichita before moving to the Kansas City area.
I enjoy cooking and love great food, yet this cookie recipe is still my signature cookie recipe, and I cherish the family heritage.
Q: How has the recipe changed over the years?
A: I make these cookies bite-size and decorate them with colored sugar.
Traditional Scottish shortbread, like my grandmother made, was baked in a round pie pan and was cut into triangles. The dough was pricked with a fork before baking, but not decorated or dusted with sugar. My mother baked them in a 9-by-13-inch pan.
I enjoy shaping the cookies into tiny balls that I flatten just slightly, and I decorate the cookies with coarse sanding sugar. I decorate them with red and pink sugar for Valentine’s Day or dust them with seven different colors of sugar for other holidays.
My mother commented that my method was too time-consuming and she felt too labor-intensive, but I think the beautiful look and great flavor outweigh the added time needed to shape the dough.
Q: With just three ingredients, the recipe appears basic. What is the secret to the rich flavor you mention?
A: This is a great example that simple ingredients carefully mixed, shaped and baked become incredibly delicious cookies.
I take great care when making the cookies, rolling the dough evenly into 3/4 -inch balls and carefully arranging them on parchment-lined baking sheets. I like to make them consistent in size and shape so they bake more evenly and look prettier.
Q: Do you give the cookies as gifts?
A: My husband was a private pilot for many Midwestern corporations, and I often sent these cookies along with him on flights to share with the passengers.
Today I bake them, keep them frozen and arrange them on pretty plates or in cookie tins to give as gifts.
Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published 11 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at pluggedintocooking.com. Email them at KCComeIntoMyKitchen@gmail.com.
Petite Shortbread Cookies
Makes 145 to 150 cookies
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
Colored sanding sugar for decorating cookies
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar slowly, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly add the flour, beating until blended.
If necessary, refrigerate the dough about 30 minutes for easier handling. (Wash your hands frequently while shaping the dough so your hands don’t become warm or sticky.)
Shape the dough into approximately 3/4 -inch balls, then flatten slightly with your fingertips. Place the cookies about 1/2 to 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. After all cookie dough has been shaped and placed on the cookie sheets, sprinkle the cookies with colored sugar.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pans after 10 minutes. Bake until the cookies are set and are just beginning to lightly brown on the underneath side. (Do not overbake or allow cookies to brown.) Allow cookies to cool 15 to 30 minutes.
The cookies freeze well. Transfer to a cookie tin or plastic container and seal tightly.
Tip: To evenly shape the dough, measure out 1 to 2 tablespoons of dough and roll it between your hands into an evenly shaped log. Pinch off the amount of dough for one cookie and roll it into a 3/4 -inch ball. Repeat until all of the dough is shaped.