My Favorite Cookie: Shortbread

Ah, shortbread. Buttery, delicious shortbread. Eating a tin of Walkers shortbread cookies is one of my FAVORITE things to do around the holiday season. Shortbread cookies have been a pretty typical stocking stuffer in my family for as long as I can remember. There is something about the simple, melt-in-your-mouth butter cookie that just gets me every time. I could eat entire packages/tins of them in one sitting (seriously).

The secret to a beautiful cookie is a beautiful pan 🙂

Because I had some time off work and was feeling crafty, I decided to make my own shortbread this year. I’ve done it before, but it had been a while (probably 10 years?) since I’d last made them. I have a few recipes for shortbread in my collection, but I decided to go with a slightly less traditional recipe that uses all icing/powdered sugar (no granulated sugar), as I wanted my cookies to be super silky and smooth. I also FINALLY broke out my shortbread/springerle pan, figuring it had been gathering enough dust that it was time to put it to use. Sadly, my pan/mold is not holiday themed – it’s spring themed! I decided that the spring theme worked, especially this year (2020…) – these cookies represent hopefulness for the new year to come 🙂

Spring is coming soon! Bye bye, 2020.

A note on this recipe: If you want basic shortbread, just add vanilla as your main flavor/ingredient. BUT, I like to mix it up sometimes and I’ve successfully tossed in the zest of an orange, lemon, or lime. Or if I’m not feeling citrusy, I’ll instead add 1/2 – 1 tsp of another extract, like anise or almond. This year I added 1/2 tsp of anise extract in addition to the vanilla, which gave these cookies a nice warm (yet very subtle) licorice flavor. Enjoy!

Silky Shortbread

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup salted butter (softened – at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup powdered/icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional extra flavor: zest of an orange, lemon, or lime, OR 1/2 – 1tsp of other extracts, like anise or almond
  • 1 1/2 cups al purpose flour
These simple ingredients make some pretty spectacular cookies.

Instructions:

  • Preheat your over to 325F.
  • Whip the softened butter until light and fluffy, then add the powdered sugar and beat to combine. Add vanilla (and optional extra zest or flavor extract, if desired!). Beat well. Add flour and beat until well combined.
  • Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic (like you would for a pastry crust). Refrigerate for an hour. NOTE: If you plan to slice your cookies, I would suggest shaping your dough into your preferred slicing shape (square log? rectangle log? circular log?) before you refrigerate them. You can then slice them once they’ve hardened up in the fridge!
  • If you’re using a mold or shortbread pan, press the chilled dough into the pan REALLY WELL. the dough will be hard, but this will help it hold it’s shape in the mold. It’s ok if it looks a little hodge-podge from the back at the first. Once the dough is in the mold, make sure your sides and edges are clean so that when you go to cut the cookies after they’ve baked, they come out looking nice and even. PRICK THE COOKIES WITH A FORK (this goes for both molded and sliced cookies). This keeps the dough from puffing up. No one wants fluffy shortbread.
  • Bake at 325 for 25-30min – you want the cookies to be a nice, golden/light brown.
  • Cool for 15min and then unmold the cookies (I put a cutting board over my mold and flipped the cookies out – given the amount of butter in this recipe, the cookies should fall out of the pan really easily).
  • Using the guidelines on your mold, cut the cookies while they are still warm (they are less likely to crumble when you cut them while warm). Enjoy!
Unless you want fluffy shortbreads, you must prick your cookies with a fork.
Christmas eve breakfast of champions.

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