1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sherry
Cream butter, add sugar and cream until light-colored. Beat eggs and add to butter and sugar. Mix flour with salt and spices. Mix it in, alternating with the sherry. Chill overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 450 F.
Roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thick and cut shapes with cookie cutter. You must use a greased baking sheet for this recipe: parchment will burn at 450 F. Bake about 7 minutes or until barely brown at the edges. Check frequently. A very hot oven will take the cookies from raw to burned in a minute.
This is one of my two favorite recipes in this first batch of eight. This is a shortbread-type cookie, and I am sucker for shortbread. One quality that I especially admire is its delicate use of nutmeg. Nutmeg has a very penetrating flavor, and even a little too much will spoil a recipe (in my opinion). These cookies have exactly the right amount, just enough to hint of the Orient, an allusive whiff of mystery and distance and wonder.
Questions: I don’t understand the use of sherry. It’s too small an amount to taste, at least for me. I don’t understand the need for a 450 F oven. 350-375 F is a more normal range for cookies, and a higher temperature makes it too easy to ruin a pan of cookies by leaving them in 30 seconds too long.
Incidentally, the Gourmet photo shows a light blue icing. This was not in the original 1946 recipe. I don’t know why it was added. The technique, in the back of the book, is a fiddly business, using three piping bags, two nozzles, icing of two different colors and two different densities, and three separate applications. I can’t imagine it improved this already splendid cookie, and I elected not to bother.
Next week: our third shortbread cookie, also a winner.
Below: first photo Gourmet, second photo by me.