2 cups butter, very soft (I use salted, but unsalted works, too)
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup cornstarch
3 cups all-purpose flour
Coloured candied cherries or dried cranberries, for garnish
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lighty grease three baking sheets.
Using a hand-held electric mixer (see notes), cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until very creamy. Gradually beat in the cornstarch and flour. Continue to beat the batter until it looks like slightly overbeaten whipped cream, about 10 minutes. I always set a timer for 10 minutes as it feels like a long time.
Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons (or 3 level tablespoons, to be exact) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Add a colored cherry or dried cranberry in the center of each cookie. Note: if you don’t have 3 cookie sheets wait until you remove the baked cookies from one and it cools completely. Putting the cookie sheets outside in the cold, winter weather cools them down very quickly.
Bake the cookies for approximately 15 minutes. You can bake two sheets at once, turning them halfway through. Remove the cookies from the oven just as they start to brown on the bottoms.
Let the shortbread cookies cool on the cookie sheet for at least 10 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Do be careful when moving them as they will fall apart if you transfer them too soon.