Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 6th January 2012

I’ll never forget the first time I enjoyed Shortbread Cookies, I can remember thinking where have these extraordinarily tender cookies they call shortbread been all my life.  The literal melt-in-your-mouth lusciousness was out of this world delicious.  Christmas would never be the same again.

A photo of various short bread christmas cookies decorated with red and white candy cane sprinkles and green sprinkles.

My family’s big Christmas celebration is enjoyed on Christmas Eve.  We enjoy the Feast of the Seven Fishes and it would be the first year my husband would enjoy our family’s famous “seafood soup”.  My family, without fail, always celebrated Christmas Eve together and if you were married Christmas Day was spent with your spouse’s family.  It was 1989 and the year I met my husband.  Who knew it would be the first year I wouldn’t spend Christmas Day with my family?  I’m still not sure how I managed to come home from midnight mass and load my bags into the truck for what would be the first trip of many.  We drove all night to get to Mémère and Pépère’s for Christmas morning.

A photo of stacked, easy shortbread cookies decorated with green sprinkles for Christmas and a glass of cold milk displayed on a green-checked cloth napkin.

Moe’s parents live in Northern Ontario and if you’ve ever taken a road trip up north in the middle of winter you can just imagine our 10-hour drive through the harsh winter’s night.  I’d never seen so much snow!  We couldn’t see two feet in front of us through the blizzard.  And wow was it cold.  Thank goodness Moe was used to the weather, for him it was like taking a leisurely drive on a clear summer’s day.  Not so much for me, all I can tell you is that for Moe the trip couldn’t go fast enough, I think, no I know I complained the whole way there.  It was dark and eerie and you could drive for hours without seeing any form of life, no other cars, no gas stations, no strip malls and all I could think about was meeting a 1500 pound moose on the highway or ending up in a ditch.

A photo of various shortbread cookies decorated with red and white candy cane sprinkles and green sprinkles, displayed in rows of three on a white, rectangle-shaped, textured dish that is placed on a red cloth napkin.

After what seemed like days we arrived at Mémère and Pépère’s.  I needed a coffee and Moe?  He needed a 26 of rye.  He deserved a medal for putting up with me.  I can remember getting out of the truck and walking to the rear door of Moe’s family home and all you could hear was the crunch, crunch of the snow beneath your feet.  And if you weren’t careful and took too deep a breath in the cold air would burn your throat.

A photo of Christmas shortbread cookies arranged in rows of three on a white dish with one row of cookies decorated with red and white candy cane sprinkles, the next row of shortbread cookies are topped with blue sprinkles and the final row of shortbread cookies are decorated with dark green sprinkles.

And once I stepped in the house I didn’t venture out until it was time to come home.  No sledding for me, no walk by the lake, snowshoeing and snowmobile rides?  Forget about it!  Now looking back I wish I would’ve braved the elements.  I’ve realized a little too late you need to seize the moment.

A cropped photo of various shortbread cookies decorated with red and white candy cane sprinkles and green sprinkles, displayed in rows of three on a white, rectangle-shaped dish.

Mémère had a tin of cookies on the kitchen table.  I remember peering in and seeing a variety of cookies I’d never seen before and one of them has become one of my most favourite cookies to enjoy at Christmas, shortbread.  Every day I waited with anticipation for Mémère to replenish the tin.  I wonder if she knew it was me that was eating all the shortbread?  When no one was looking I would sneak a cookie or two or three!  I couldn’t resist, Mémère’s shortbread cookies were so good.

A photo of a stack of shortbread cookies topped with red and white candy cane sprinkles on a small, round white dish that is sitting on top of a folded, red cloth napkin.

I don’t know why I save them only to enjoy at Christmas, the cookies are so easy to make and could easily be enjoyed all year long.  I think maybe because they remind me of two families coming together for the first time.  And maybe I’m afraid they won’t be special any more.  It’s funny how something as simple as a shortbread cookie can evoke so many memories and bring out so much emotion and have you longing for something you will never have again.

A cropped photo of short bread cookies decorated with red and white candy cane sprinkles and green sprinkles, displayed in rows of three on a white, rectangle-shaped serving dish.

For some reason the tradition of enjoying shortbread at Christmas this year held so much significance for me.  I think, finally, after all these years I’m ready to move forward and take the necessary steps to move past the pain of losing Moe.  I’ve realized it’s time to make peace with what happened, it’s time to heal, not just for me but also for Liana and Matthew too.  We need to stop going through the motions and actually start living life again.

A photo of 4 star-shaped Christmas cookies, melt in your mouth shortbread, decorated with green sprinkles and displayed on a bed of red and clear sprinkles in a martini glass with a striking black background.

Sharing my food journey through this blog and now through my cookbook has brought me to the conclusion that although life will never be the same as it once was it doesn’t mean that we can’t be happy again.   The little things, like making shortbread, don’t have to remind us of the tragedy of losing Moe but they can remind us instead of the good times shared and the happy memories.  This experience has actually saved me in more ways than I can express in words and I am officially taking back my life.  I think Moe would be proud and I’m sure he’s looking down saying, “It’s about time!”

A photo of a heap of butter cookies decorated for Christmas with red and white candy cane sprinkles, blue sprinkles and dark green sprinkles, displayed on a small cooling rack lined with a sheet of parchment paper on a dark wooden board.

All the best to you all in 2012 and I hope that if you’re facing your own demons you will make this year about healing, moving forward and celebrating life!

A photo of Christmas cookies, shortbread, decorated with red and white candy cane sprinkles and also green sprinkles displayed on a long, white rectangle-shaped serving dish.

A photo of gourmet cookies, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread, for Christmas displayed in seven rows of three on a long, rectangle-shaped white, textured dish with alternating rows of cookies decorated differently, one row with red and white candy cane sprinkles, the next row with green sprinkles.

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Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Biscotti, Cookies, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes, Ricette di Base

Comments (18)

18 Responses to “Mémère’s Melt-In-Your-Mouth Shortbread Cookies”

  1. Kathryn Says:

    Oh Grace, this is such a wonderful post. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to go through what you have but I’m so glad that you feel like you’re able to start healing and move forward. Lots of good wishes for 2012 and I can’t wait to see the book and all the fantastic treats that you’re going to come up with this year.

  2. Grace Says:

    Thank you Kathryn, hope 2012 if filled with much love and happiness for you and your family!

  3. Maria Says:

    The cookies look perfect!

  4. Lauren at Keep It Sweet Says:

    What a beautiful post, Grace. You are so amazing and strong and I admire you for putting your feelings out there. It is wonderful to hear that your cookbook and blog have helped you move forward and towards finding another place to be happy in life!

    I actually didn’t always like shortbread cookies but recently became a huge fan. These look so pretty with the Christmas sprinkles.

  5. Grace Says:

    Thank you Lauren, it’s taken me while to get here but I think making the decision to finally move forward and talking about it will help tremendously.

  6. nayalie Says:

    These short bread cookies were so Yummy! I enjoyed
    Them a lot. I forgot to take a tuperware of them the
    Other night when I left. I hope there is some left!

  7. Grace Says:

    sorry honey, I may just have to make another batch, I think you should stop by for baking lesson #1, what do you think?

  8. Jacqueline (CakeBoule) Says:

    These look amazing Grace but then i have come to expect nothig less than brilliance. I can;t wait to try these and our words in this post are very touching. I hope it hets easier in 2012 for you. Bake , Love and Sparkle x

  9. marla Says:

    You had me at “melt in your mouth” love these cookies!

  10. zahra Says:

    Hi Grace. It s really hard to say my emotions in another language but I want you to know I admire you. It made me sad to hear about Moe but I m happy that you r gonna step forward and pass the problems.
    I hop you and your family all the best.
    oh I forget about shortbreads. they look yummy. the name is yummy too ;) thank for sharing that.
    kisses

  11. Nejla Says:

    Hi Grace,
    I made these wonderfull cookies and put them on mu blog..
    Thank you so much!!

  12. Carol Says:

    I baked these cookies today, I couldn’t get powered sugar to stick to the fork so I rolled cookie balls in sugar and baked as though I were making peanut butter cookies. My family loved the cookies, next time I make them I’ll use the buttom of a glass. Very tasty :-)

  13. Steph Says:

    Delicious! And very simple to make :) Though mine didn’t look quite as pretty as the photos here (think I may have squished them a bit hard with the fork!) Might also try the bottom of a glass next time..!

  14. Grace Says:

    Steph I’ve done that too, now I dip in icing sugar and start at the tips of the tines and follow thru.

  15. Lindsey Says:

    I just made these. I liked them but my roommate said they didn’t have much flavor to them. I personally made them for some coffee and a cookie in the morning, and a lot of flavor isn’t required for that. If you’re looking to make them for Christmas I would add almond extract instead of vanilla, or a little more sugar (like 1/4 c). But don’t get me wrong. I still liked them very much!

  16. Grace Says:

    Good Morning Lindsey, taste is so subjective, thank you for providing some alternatives! For me, I can’t get enough of these cookies, one of my favourites.

  17. Shirley Says:

    Thanks for the great recipe making them now, I lived in N O, for 30 yearsand can relate to the calm drive by your husband .

  18. Frosted Shortbread Cookies Says:

    […] of a melt in your mouth texture as this recipe.  I am so glad that I can across this recipe from Grace’s Sweet Life because it was just the kind of recipe I was looking […]

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