dancing with sugar plums

shortbread with cranberries and pistachios
shortbread with cranberries and pistachios

Sugar plums are dancing.  Does anyone really know what that means?

I’ve seen the Nutcracker; watching the cute littles in their fluffy tutus and I can mostly recite “The Night Before Christmas.”  Of course there are numerous recipes which are an amalgamation of dried fruits, spices and seeds formed into an oval plum shape and dusted with a snow of powdered sugar.

The sugary vision that dances in my head is cookies.  Not too sweet, but a bit savory consumes my palate passion.

A particular favorite is shortbread.  There’s something decadently divine about the butter-heavy, only lightly sweet flavor.  These morsels can be filled with smidgens of cranberry and dripped in deep, dark chocolate, or lemon zest and thyme; plain lets the butter shine through in all its velvety glory.  Orange icing drizzled over the top with a sprinkle of chopped pistachios.  Oh my, I kinda dig shortbread.

little hands cutting shapes
little hands cutting shapes

On our grandkiddo’s baking day, the basic recipe will be cut into stars and trees and snowmen, which will be promptly smeared with thick, pastel-colored vanilla frosting, then drenched in sprinkles that will bounce all over the kitchen, refusing to be swept up for days.  How is it that those tiny specks can continue to elude the broom and mop?   Best of show awards will probably not be given out, but the love and smile factor will be over the moon.

orange glaze drips over shortbread studded with zest
orange glaze drips over shortbread studded with zest

Shortbread Cookies – Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten


  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all­-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter and­ sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
  • Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Roll the dough 1/2­inch thick and cut into desired shapes.
  • Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Not an overly sweet vision dancing in my head –





2 thoughts on “dancing with sugar plums

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