These are the shortest, tenderest, most melt-in-your-mouth shortbread ever! This recipe was sent to me by Chef Curtis Straub in Calgary. This is his Aunt Ester’s recipe. The key is in the beating of the batter – don’t skimp! The more you beat, the better they get. Under-beating will produce a tough cookie. The original recipe was not beaten in a mixer but rather kneaded like bread dough. If you choose to knead rather than beat… knead the dough for a full 10 minutes.

Makes 36 shortbread

1 lb salted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups packed icing sugar

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

6 tbsp cornstarch

18 whole glace cherries, halved

Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and the icing sugar until fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and the cornstarch. Gradually add the mixture to the creamed butter, a third at a time on low speed. Increase speed to medium-high and beat the batter for a full 10 minutes. The batter will resemble heavily beaten whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Using an 1/8 cup scoop (a 1 oz ice cream scoop), or a heaping tbsp, transfer the dough to the cookie sheet. Lightly flour your palms, and roll each scoop of dough into a ball and then flatten slightly. (Curtis uses a 1 oz scoop to place the dough and then uses the bottom of a water glass to gently flatten each cookie.) Place on the cookie sheet and press a pretty motif into the top of each cookie, if desired. The flat side of a fluted pastry cutter is pretty, or a floured fork, or you can leave them as is. Press a glace cherry half into the centre of each cookie. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool.