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Holiday Baking: Elfin Shortbread Cookies--First in a series

I love holiday baking! And I start to plan what to make way before Christmas--just like I start dreaming of snow in July. (Really, I do! I know, I'm a freak.) So I thought I'd start a weekly series of the things I'm planning to make, along with some of the things I make every year.

This is one that I've had filed away for a few years, but I never got around to trying it. I don't know what I've been waiting for! These are so easy. Even easier if you use a food processor. They're a basic shortbread, so if you're looking for a sweet cookie, these aren't going to do it for you. But if you love shortbread or know someone that does, give these a try! You make the dough right in the food processor, knead it a few times to get it all together, pat it out on your baking sheet and cut them into little squares. So easy! The only problem is that they're teeny, and so easy to pop in your watch out, hehe. You could also change the colors of the sprinkles for different occasions.


637 sprinkles. No, I didn't count them. I made the kids do it, of course.

Yeah, I know. They're not all square. Probably why I didn't get 160 freaking teeny cookies.


I also had some chocolate calling to me from my (not so) secret stash of goodies, so I figured I'd melt some and dip a few of the cookies--give them a bit of chilling time in the fridge. Mmmmm, those were good, too! But if you decide to do that and give them away, they need to be chilled or in a cool place. Next time, I think I'd add some mint extract to the chocolate.


Elfin Shortbread Bites
from Simply Homemade Food Gifts



1 1/4 cups flour
3 TB sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 TB red and green sprinkles


If using a food processor, pulse the flour and sugar until blended.
Add in the butter until it all resembles fine crumbs.
Add the sprinkles and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. (Don't overdo it, or the dough will turn pink from the red sprinkles. Trust me on this one.)
Remove to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until the dough forms a ball.
Pat the dough out into an 8x5 inch rectangle on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Cut the dough into 1/2 inch squares, and separate them on the baking sheet. (A bench scraper works really well for cutting them.)

If you're not using a food processor, mix the flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter until you get fine crumbs, stir in the sprinkles and knead until smooth. Continue with cutting and baking the cookies...

Bake at 325 for 12-14 minutes, and then transfer the cookies on the parchment to a cooling rack.
Store in a tightly covered container at room temp for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.

This is supposed to make about 160 little cookies. Huh? In what universe, I'd like to know. Maybe I made mine

gigantic at about one inch each, but I got about 90, both times.


As with any shortbread, these get better every day. If they manage to last three days, they'll be even better!

Edit on Tuesday to add: I just chowed down about 10 of these (I told you, they're dangerous.) and they have improved, like shortbread always does. The flavor of the butter is more pronounced as is the small amount of sugar in these. I love shortbread!

Next week's holiday recipe? Well, I'm not sure yet, but it'll be good. :)



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Reader Comments (45)

Gorgeous shortbread!!

September 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

Elle, it's never too early for holiday baking. I love shortbread, not too sweet, and a perfect conversation cookie... ya know just sit back with a friend and talk about life :) (or football)

September 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

VG--thank you!

Adam--yes, football! Sooo much to talk about. hehe.

September 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterElle

I am the self-proclaimed Christmas Queen but September is even a little too early for me. I can see that you and I would be very bad influences on one another if we lived in the same neighborhood. It really is a struggle to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to put up that tree ha ha

Can't wait to see what else you have up your sleeve!

September 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterErin

These are so so cute! I think I will bookmark these to use for my holiday cookie exchange.

September 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

These look like itty bitty delites. I HAVE to try these, and not just for the holidays.

September 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTeaLady

Sooooooooooo cute! Last year I made 25 different kinds of cookies and candy for the holidays. Crazy. These will be added to my Must-Try list for high cute-factor!

September 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRecipeGirl

Absolutely adorable! I love all things Christmas, so I'm glad to see you in a festive mood already :)

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

Holiday baking!! Goodness, Iam just now looking up pumpkin recipes for fall. :)

These sure are cute though, Elle!

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRachelle

These are so pretty and as much as I hate to admit it, you are sooo doin'the right thing! Every year I dream of organisational bliss and all the great food we can eat and every year I'm in a last minute spin....I think I'm going to follow your example. In UK as I guess in the States, the Christmas build up begins early, but here in France it really doesn't begin to happen until the end of November, which is great but bad for waking me up into action!!

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrecipes2share

Ive just started thinking about what Im going to cook and bake this christmas - Im eagerly awaiting the arrival of Nigella's Christmas book. These are being bookmarked!

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Awesome, I love shortbread. I never realized it was so simple! I will totally be making these.

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBob

I love the look of the sprinkles inside of the cookies - what a great idea!! I'm looking forward to your holiday posts - I need to be extra prepared and organized this year since I will be 8 months pregnant at Christmas!!

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

Wow Elle! Those look fantastic! :)

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennDZ - The Leftover Queen

Omigosh! Those are too cute!

holy smurfs, elle--i can't believe you're starting already! i'm excited to see what else you come up with, because even fresh out of the gate you have a winner. these are festive and fun and easy, and i think dipping them in mint-flavored chocolate would be a stroke of genius. very nice.

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

These look so wonderful - I love shortbread and holiday baking, so I will be trying them for sure!

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdlyn

Perfect for New Year & Christmas! I will be making those :)

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarija

I love your blog!

How wonderful these little cookies look. What a terrice gift these would make. :)

Kudos to you for starting to bake for Christmas. I haven't been able to get past Halloween yet. lol!

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTami

So totally cute! I love shortbreads (because they don't tank at my elevation) and these are ADORABLE. Thanks for the inspiration :)

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen Yu

I've been making these (by hand because I don't have a food processor yet) for years, from a Good Housekeeping magazine page, I think - they are just wonderful. I usually sub. about 1/4 cup of rice flour to give them a crumblier texture, and use colored sugar sprinkles (or mini choc. chips) because until recently I couldn't find nonpareils. They do keep wonderfully, if you can hide them, and I fill little cellophane bags with them for cookie boxes to give away. (here via Foodgawker.)

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermetterklume

These look so good!! I love shortbread and these might be just the thing. hmmm, are you making already and freezing?

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

Wow! Those are just beautiful! I can't wait to try this, I had already decided to be on the look out for new Christmas cookie recipes. These would look awesome dipped in white chocolate too! Maybe with a teeny amount of green and/or red non-pareils??

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Oh and BTW, I'm afraid you've left me no choice... you've forced me to take drastic action and add you to my blog roll. :)

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I have been thinking about my Christmas cookies, too! These are so cute. I will consider adding them to the rotation, but I want to see what else you show before I commit. :)

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHangryPants

These are really cute and they look like they would make great gifts! I have been thinking of Christmas cookies for months too :)

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjillian

You had to be reading my mind - I was just thinking about how much I love making holiday cookies. I like creating my own gifts and these are absolutely a perfect addition. I'll put them in Chinese food containers and these little squares are perfect for filling in small spaces.

September 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergiz

These are adorable!
I need to start planning my food gift - tks for such great inspiration!

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia Scarpin

Oh this is just gorgeous shortbread. You kicked this up a few notches my dear.
I'm so using this recipe!!!

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Those shortbread cookies look so yummy! I'm going to make them this holiday season!

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Yay for holiday baking! An extra yay for super cute cookies that I need to make this year! :)

These are soooooo adorable. Santa is going to be a happy camper this year :).

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSophie

Those are so cute and festive! Thanks and nice blog :)

October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

these are really cute Elle! Totally suitable for xmas!

October 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs Erg├╝l

Hi Elle, I love your cookies... They are just so cute!

October 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCris

These look so amazing that I am about to convert them into a Halloween treat because I won't be able to wait for Christmas!! ORANGE AND BLACK SPRINKLES!! THank you, Elle!!!

October 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBMoreSweet

i'm so very glad to have come across your blog - these little cookies are just beyond cute, and i can't wait to make them for gift baskets (and for my own family!)

October 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKrista

Those cookies are so sweet :) I'm glad to know it's not just me who's already begun Christmas baking.

OMG! Those little goodies are absolutely, without a doubt, going into my little Christmas cookie gifts this year. Thanks for the beautiful post. The photos are fantastic too!

October 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMeryl

How did I miss this post? I was reading your "week 2" post and then I was like: "Week 2? Where's week 1?" Those are the cutest cookies ever! You have a lot more patience than I do though, that is a LOT of cookies to dip! :)

October 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLyB

I just posted these - so delicious!

December 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

So very yummy and fun! in the midst of my holiday baking, I stumbled across this post and decided they were too cute not to try them. My 5-year-old son helped and ate nearly all of the double batch we started with. I made another double and started talking about them and passing them around. I'm not sure how many people I've referred to the blog now, but they're all loving these!

We'll be doing these again in February with pink and red sprinkles...Love Bites? Then on to the 4th of July, Halloweeen, the possibilities are endless!

January 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

I love these cute little delights! I made them according to the recipe, but mine came out flat instead of cute square cookies. Any idea on what I did wrong? I really want to make them correctly! Thanks in advance!

December 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

These are so cute and even better dipped in chocolate!

December 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermegan

Stephanie, you probably rolled them out a little too thin. Try keeping them thicker.

Also, I know they're a shortbread, but I'm feeding high schoolers. They need sugar...(yeah right)
Anyway, I threw them all in a big Tupperware bowl, spritzed them with spray butter and threw a TB of sugar and sprinkle mix in there. It added a little more to the decoration and also gave it a nice sugary add

December 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

these are absolutely adorable!! I love how they're the perfect bite-size however, instead of saving me extra calories...I'll probably just eat all of them

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

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