The recipe for easy-as-pie gift giving? Get crafty—or, better yet, let Portland Monthly get
crafty for you!

Step 1:  Whip up a few batches of Kir Jensen's cardamom shortbread cookies, featured in her cookbook, The Sugar Cube (recipe below).

Step 2: Print out our signature Made in Portland
gift tags (PDF).

Step 3: Place the cookies in a pouch of tissue paper, fasten with string, and apply the tag.

Step 4: Cozy up in front of the fire and enjoy your holiday free time, thanks to your DIY gifting!


Cardamom Shortbread Cookies
(Makes about 24 cookies

Recipe adapted from The Sugar Cube by Kir Jensen and Danielle Centoni  

  • 1½ cups unbleached all–purpose flour
  • ½ cup rice flour (see tip below)
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ vanilla bean or ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ cup superfine sugar for coating 

1. Sift together the all–purpose flour, rice flour, cardamom, and salt into a medium bowl. Split the piece of vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with ha paddle attachment. Add the butter and confectioners’ sugar and beat on medium–high speed until blended but not fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, mix until just combined.

2. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather it into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until completely firm, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Put the superfine sugar in a small bowl.

4. divide the dough into 2–tablespoon portions (Using a small ice–cream scoop or spoon), and roll each portion into a ball. Slightly flatten the ball between your palms into a 1/2 –inch–thick patty and toss it in the sugar to coat. Place the cookies at least 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the edges are lightly golden, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back and between upper and lower racks halfway through.

5. Cool for several minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. They will keep in an airtight container for at least 1 week. 

Tips

• You can these unbelievably tender, melt-in-your-mouth cookies alone, but to make them a little sturdier and even more pig–out worthy, Jensen sandwiches them with a dab of apricot preserves. To turn these into sandwich cookies, spoon 1 teaspoon of apricot preserves onto the bottom side of half the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, bottom–side down, and sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar.

• Rice flour gives these cookies an incredibly tender texture. It’s really worth seeking out, and with the explosion of gluten–free products on the market today, it’s actually easy to find. Look for it at Trader Joe’s, the gluten–free section at the supermarket, or online at bobsredmill.com.

If you'd rather let Jensen do the baking for you, check out her new brick-and-mortar bakery on NE Alberta! We won't tell anyone you didn't do it yourself, we promise.