Baking holiday cookies this time of year is less of a tradition and more of a compulsion, if I’m being honest with myself. So far this year I’ve made pumpkin cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate mint cookies, molasses cookies, and more, but what if there was an easier way to fill up the cookie tins I plan on gifting than literally making a bazillion different recipes that require me to constantly wash my mixer bowl? Thanks to Ina Garten, there is! She just shared a shortbread cookie recipe on Instagram and on The Today Show that can actually be turned into five different kinds of cookies, all using one fail-proof Barefoot Contessa recipe. As she always says, “How easy is that?”
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The base cookie recipe makes simple, buttery shortbread hearts (we like these fluted cookie cutters). It calls for five ingredients you probably already have on hand: butter, sugar, vanilla (we use Garten’s favorite vanilla), flour, and salt. Bake the cookies as-is, and you’ll have delicous shortbread cookies, perfect with tea or cocoa. However, you can expand on the recipe in several different ways to make more cookies.
You can make faux-Linzer cookies by turning the shortbread cookies into jam sandwiches. You can add chopped pecans to the dough to make homemade Pecan Sandies, you can dip the shortbread in chocolate to make them more luxe, or you can glaze your cookies with different flavored icings and top them with sprinkles to transform them.
You know those Danish butter cookie tins that are basically always filled with sewing supplies? Well, this is like the DIY-version of making one of those tins, except there are actual cookies involved! They all have the same butter cookie base, which ties them together, but your extra touches transforms the dough so you have a cookie medley on your hands that didn’t require you to wash your mixer bowl a hundred times in the process of filling up your cookie tins.
Yes, these shortbreads make amazing gifts. But if you decide to keep this transformative batch of cookies for yourself, we won’t tell!
Before you go, check out these Ina Garten-Approved holiday gift ideas: