Making a Shortbread cookie is making a cookie rife with contradictions. On the one hand, it appears to be a simple butter cookie with few ingredients and humble origins; on the other hand, it is a cookie that is really easy to f— up. However, do not let that deter you, gentle reader, from attempting and perfecting shortbread cookies. Shortbread is as versatile as it is temperamental. So read carefully, but bake bravely. The rewards of mastering shortbread cookies are numerous, delicious, and filled with butter.
- 2 sticks cold butter that has been allowed to warm up just a hair (take it out of the fridge for about 5-10 minutes. It should be cool to the touch but not overly soft)
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup rice flour
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- Granulated Sugar for sprinkling on top
- Optional: Fleur de Sel for sprinkling on top
- 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper
- 1, nine inch round cake pan
- 4 sheets of parchment paper cut into 9” circles (just trace the cake pan)
- a rubber spatula for scraping the bowl
- An electric mixer (or your hands, a spoon, and some elbow grease)
1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with oven racks placed in the center of the oven.
2) Using a sharp knife, cube the butter into 1/2″ cubes. Be precise. Its less important that the butter be in 1/2”, but it is important that the butter be cut into symmetrical cubes of relatively similar side. Did I mention this recipe is for the OCD chef?
3) On high, beat the butter until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
4) Turn your mixer down to medium speed and add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat for a minute or two or until thoroughly combined. Note: I like to sift in my sugar to make sure it is lump free because you want a very smooth dough. Scrape the sides of the bowl
5) Turn your mixer on its lowest speed. In two separate batches, add the flours scraping the sides of the bowl in between each edition until a smooth dough forms. Turn off the mixer.
6) Split the dough into two even balls of dough.
7) Put one of the balls one of the round pieces of parchment and gently flatten it out into a thick disk. Make sure your disk is evenly formed and center it on your parchment round. Put another piece of parchment on top. Center your cake pan on top of the dough disk so that the parchment and cake pan are flush and press down evenly. You want the pressure to be as even as possible so that you get a thinner disk that is uniform and about 1/2″ in thickness. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
Another Note: This may seem complicated, but its not. It’s a lot less messy than rolling out your dough with a rolling pin and, with a little care, quicker too.
8) Place the disks of dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour with both pieces of parchment still on them to help protect them from the chill.
9) Take the dough out of the fridge and poke the it evenly with the tines of a fork. Cut the dough into wedges (like a pizza. A delicious, buttery pizza). I get about 8 per disk.
10) Place the wedges of dough on the baking sheets and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place in the oven in the center rack. Once the cookies are in the oven, drop the temperature of the oven to 300 degrees and bake until the edges of the cookies are just golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. You’ll have to watch carefully those last 5 minutes to get that perfect golden color. Also burnt cookies are gross.
11) When the cookies are done, let them cool on wire racks on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Then move the cookies from the baking sheet to the wire rack to cool down all by themselves.
Variations: This is a very versatile cookie. From adding Citrus zest and different extracts (almond would be great!) to dipping the cookies in melted chocolate, the sky is the limit with these bad boys. Told you they were versatile