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These traditional holiday cookies can be made as basic shortbread cookies or they can have many flavorful variations; almost anything your heart can imagine or desire in holiday cookies. The basic recipe for Icebox Shortbread Christmas cookies requires the following ingredients:
2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature or 16 tablespoons
1-cup confectioners sugar
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour plus a bit extra for rolling out the dough
Using an electric mixer, combine butter, vanilla and salt until smooth. Maintain a slow speed as you add the flour, slowly until a dough forms. If you desire additional add-ins for the entire recipe, add those now by stirring in with a wooden spoon.
Divide the dough in half and place each portion on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Use the paper as a shield between your hands and the dough to gently roll the dough into a 1-½ inch in diameter log. You can roll the log in the add-in of your choice; make sure that it is embedded into the cookie dough. Wrap the logs in the parchment paper, twisting the ends to seal. Wrap again in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for over one hour or until firm to the touch.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the cookie dough logs and cut 3/8 inch slices with a serrated knife. Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, approximately 1 inch apart.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are slightly browned; cool on baking sheets for one a couple minutes and then transfer to wire cookie cooling racks. These can be stored at room temperature, for up to one week in an airtight container.