We have added Irish Shortbread cookies to our collection of holiday treats, the other favorite around here being the Magic Squares - although this recipe we've also called "Zoo Cookies", because they used to have these amazing cookies at the zoo, always expertly decorated to look like various zoo animals, which I admit to having gone sometimes with the cookie being the prime attraction. Then they seem to have quit selling them there, so I had to find out what sort of cookies they were to satisfy the occasional craving. Having found out what they're made of, I now know why they tasted so good, so we have to limit how often they get made. ;) I realized we've been making these regularly now and I've never posted the recipe, so I'm correcting that now.
2 cups butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour.
Bring butter to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Cream the butter until it is the consistency of whipped cream.
Beat in the sugar. Add salt. Add flour in 4 portions (one cup at a time) mixing well after each addition.
Turn out onto a floured board and pat or roll to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. (Dough was crumbly so required squashing to make it feel clay-like)
Cut into shape desired with a cookie cutter.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Wait till cookies are mostly cooled to ice.
3 Tablespoons Meringue Powder (I can't find this stuff anywhere so I use some creme of tartar powder instead)
4 cups confectioners' sugar (about 1lb.)
6 Tablespoons warm water*
Add flavoring such as vanilla, almond, lemon, or whatever you like (I use vanilla)
Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
Recipe makes 3 cups.
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
We like to put out small bowls of icing with some food gel coloring and some clean paint brushes and then the kids do our decorating for us.