Monday, October 11, 2010

Butteriffic, Or, Why I Love Shortbread

Generally, I'm  a chewy-chunky kind of girl.  No, I'm not talking about my personality or my fashion sense.  I'm talking about my taste in cookies.  I adore a chewy texture, and there are few combinations of chocolates, nuts, and fruits that I wouldn't support.  That said, my favorite cookie in the whole wide world might just be shortbread.

Truthfully, shortbread is butter in cookie form.  When made well, a shortbread cookie is at once light and rich, perfectly buttery and just barely sweet. The other cool thing about shortbread is that it is ridiculously easy to make.  Here's my favorite recipe, from my (in my dreams) good friend, Ina Garten:

Shortbread Cookies

3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don't trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch.) Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
  • Drizzle 1/2 of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it. 
Literate Baker notes:  I also add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract because I love it and would use it as perfume in a pinch.  I prefer to roll mine a little thinner, closer to 1/4 inch thick.

You can use any cookie cutter.
I do a chocolate dunk.
Shortbread stays fresh for a while, so it's a great cookie to give as a gift, to ship to a friend, or to use as a party favor.  Just be sure to make extra.  Eating three or four (or five) in one sitting is not unreasonable, given that they are the perfect not-too-sweet way to...

Keep it sweet.

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1 comment:

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