Shotglass Shortbread Cookies

Some nuns did a kindness for me, and I wanted to thank them with a little gift. A shortbread cookie recipe I’d recently gotten from my dear Mother-in-Law seemed to perfectly meet the case. She cuts them in a star shape, and they are thin, light and melt-in-your-mouth good.

After searching the kitchen for an hour looking for an old cookie cutter, my husband reminded me that I’d done one of my periodic sweeps, where anything I determine to have been unused for too long gets tossed or donated elsewhere. “Don’t you remember,” he said, “you stood there saying, ‘I never make rolled cookies; I haven’t used these in 20 years, and I don’t need them.’ Then you just carelessly tossed them.”

He said it with a tiny bit of glee. This man is a packrat, who throws away nothing because someone, someday might have use for old string, a 50 year old child’s accordian or 5,000 wire hangers. Whenever I throw anything out, I get the lecture about how someday, I would miss that item. This time–darn him–he’d been proved right, so I let him crow a little

“I knew your mania for throwing things out would catch up with you,” he said, failing to hide an expression of smug know-it-all-ness, “it’s ten o’ clock at night, and you have no cookie cutters; now what are you going to do?”

Well, we Irish are resourceful pusses, and we understand better than most the versatility of a shotglass. I rolled out my dough and managed to cut out 120 round shotglass shortbread cookies for my nun friends.

“Those don’t look like my mother’s,” said Mr. Quality Control as he inspected them. “My mother’s look like stars. They have zigzagged edges.”

“Well, these are just circles,” I said defensively. “A circle is a symbol of eternity, and a very sound shape for a cookie.”

“Yeah, but they’re sort of ugly,” he said. “Monastic nuns give up a lot; they should not have to endure eating ugly cookies.”

I had to admit, they were rather bland-looking.

Trying to dress them up, I polished two ceramic brooches I’d picked up in Ireland, and tried using them to impress a design on the cookies:

Well, it was a good idea, and it might have worked with a firmer dough.

Finally, I decided simply to cut crosses into the cookies. I figured, these are for nuns! What could be better than a cross? They put crosses on hot cross buns, don’t they?

And nuns eat hot cross buns, right?

“Now they look like communion wafers,” my husband said.

“They don’t!” I insisted, “they look like very fine shortbread cookies . . . that happen to have crosses in the middle of them . . . just like communion wafers.”

“You’d better write a note to Sister Portress saying ‘caution: not for use at mass.’”

Such a comedian, he is.

After sampling a few of the finished cookies, he pronounced them as delicious as Mom’s, but not as enticing. “There is something about eating the points off the stars…”

I’ll never admit it, but I agree with him on that. Eating stars is funner.

Here’s the recipe, which is easily doubled.

Anchoress’ Mother-in-Law’s Shotglass Shortbread Cookies that Should be Stars

1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar ’til fluffy. Slowly add flour until thoroughly blended. Turn onto smooth surface and roll out cookies to 1/4 inch or so (I am an inexperienced roller). Use a cookie cutter with a serated edge to make pretty cookies, or a shotglass, if it’s all you have, and cut out cookies. One batch yields about 60 cookies.

Bake at 300 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

Yeah, that’s really all. They taste like a lot of work, but they’re really that simple.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • GBurns

    My Irish grandmother made scone-like biscuits and used a jelly jar to form them. I don’t think she ever owned a cookie cutter. I make them now and I can’t find a jelly jar so I have used cookie cutters but I really like a plain thin juice glass that I have in my cabinet.

    How I miss my grandmother and her jelly jar.

    I love the look of your shot glass cookies. I have copied the recipe and will be baking a batch soon.

    God bless you.

  • Natasha

    I, too, can attest to the versatility of the shotglass. I always use one when I make “Bird-in-a-nest”.

    I like the sounds of that shortbread recipe, so it looks like I will now have another use for my versatile shotglass.

  • Rich Fader

    Okay, greedy little so-and-so that I am, I was thinking you’d be using the shotglasses as molds, not just cutters. But that works, too.

  • Jenny

    We are all bakers around here (even the guys) and in the TX summer a simple cookie is always a treat. Just because it gets hot around here doesn’t mean you don’t want to eat a fresh warm cookie with ice cold milk! I copied and printed this for baking with the grandgirls when they get here for a week at the end of school. These are easier than snickerdoodles! We will use the star cutter; and yes, my great-grandma Tate frequently used a shotglass for a cookie cutter. Can’t eat strawberries without a super-thin, crispy, sugar-coated ‘shortbread’ style biscuit cut out with a shotglass!

    [Speaking of strawberries...admin]

  • Supertradmum

    Does anyone know a really good butter or sugar cookie recipe without baking soda and baking powder? I had a great one, but it accidentally was thrown away last summer.

  • Emily

    Thanks for the laugh! Brightened my day.

  • http://!!!! kelleybee

    This sounds like simplicity itself, just like your Mac and Cheese recipe. I have to try this.

  • Kristen

    I’m normally very scrupulous about giving attribution for recipes, even in the privacy of my own recipe book. But am I really bound to say I got this from “The Anchoress’ Mother-in-Law”?

    [Call it Maria Lucia's Shortbread, then! -admin]

  • Myssi

    funny how similar Maria Lucia’s shortbread is to Granny Belle’s. In any case, hers were cut with a pint jar because we were always canning something and had one handy. You get more cookies with the shot glass size. My mom used real live cookie cutters and sent them to school parties. Guess I’ll be baking soon…I love those cookies.

  • Patrick

    They DO look like Communion wafers. I’d label them, you know, just in case.

  • Sparki

    Mmmm…I might have to make these with my little star cookie cutter and then dip all the points in melted chocolate.

  • Alison

    They do look wonderful. I always imprint my cookies when they are warm and just out of the oven. I don’t know if that would work with shortbread or not. I have to admit that it took me a batch to figure that out a few years ago.
    I love your blog.

  • Charles

    They look great!

    P.S., For next time you could also try to cross-hatch them with the back of a fork – sort of like one does with peanut butter cookies.

  • suzyq

    + The cross on top was perfect!
    Thanks for recipe. I feel my cholesterol going up. =:o

  • Sally Thomas

    My daughter and I were reading this together, and her comment, before she read your own remark re the look of the cookies, was, “Wow: hosts.”

    I myself love those brooches. Too bad the design wouldn’t “take” in cookie dough. What you really need are butter molds like that — impress your constant stream of company with little round Celtic-imprinted pats of butter.

  • MPH

    Oh my goodness- thank you for the laugh and the recipe. Can’t beat that combo!

  • Your Nun Friends

    Shot glass-should-be-star-cookies just arrived. Of course, we had to try them to make sure they were OK for the rest of the community! Right?

    HMMM Delicious! We must not be holy enough because I don’t think any of us would have thought they were hosts! We love cookies and, well, what else could they be!

    Sister Seamstress is looking in the box for the shot glass… and bottle! :-)

    Thank you so much! It was a delightful surprise!

  • California Girl

    I was scrolling down slowly, and when I got to the picture of the cookies (but before I could see the text underneath), my first thought was “Communion hosts! No, those must be the cookies.”

    Then I read your husband’s comment and laughed out loud!

  • Kimberly

    Well, your tweet came through the other day at JUST the right time. So, I made them on Wednesday. And doubled the recipe and pressed them into pans because I am lazy. Oh, and added a tablespoon or so of vanilla because that is my thing. On one of the pans, I sprinkled about 2/3 of a bag of mild choco chips after the cookies came out of the oven. And then spread them out when they melted. They are YUMMMY!!!!!