For the cookie party I had before Christmas, I decided to make Ina Garten's Shortbread. Some people find shortbread to be boring. I think I used to be one of those people. As with most things, shortbread is best if you're in the mood for it - it won't satisfy if you want something else. If you're open to it, though, a good shortbread cookie is amazing. It's sweet, rich from butter, and goes with anything. Drinking hot cocoa? Eat shortbread. Drinking wine? Eat shortbread. Drinking coffee? Eat shortbread. Dessert after just about any dinner? Shortbread. Flavored simply with vanilla extract, it's very versatile and not difficult to make.
I've had better luck in the past making cutout shortbread than cutout sugar cookies. I felt festive and wanted to use a little snowman cookie cutter. If I made shortbread cookies, I could use it to make cutouts. Decision made.
Shortbread cookies are easiest if you use an electric mixer, rather than mixing dough by hand. I used my stand mixer to make these. They're shortbread cookies, so the ingredient list is simple.
These cookies baked up well. They were a dense, rich, sweet shortbread with the simple flavor of vanilla, and I think they would have stood up well to chocolate if I had dipped them in it. The butter must have begun to soften too much in some of the cookies because some began to spread out and lose their shape. I was very happy with how these cookies turned out, and I would make them again.
- 3 sticks of butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3.5 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Mix softened butter and sugar with mixer until combined. Add vanilla. Add flour and salt, and mix slowly until the dough just comes together. Shape dough into a flat disk and chill for about 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out until it's about ½ inch thick. I have a ruler in my kitchen for this. I rolled out the dough between two layers of plastic wrap; I like using plastic wrap because it incorporates less flour into the cookies, and you can peel the plastic away if it sticks. Also, using less flour means that you can reroll the scraps of dough without them becoming too tough. I used a well-chilled marble rolling pin to roll out the dough; it helped keep the butter in the dough chilled, which would help the cookies spread less.
I sprinkled the cookies with red and plain granulated sugar, and baked them on Silpat-lined baking sheets for about 20 minutes at 350F, rotating pans once, until the edges started to brown. I stored them in a tin, and they actually stayed good for over a week. I decided against dipping them in chocolate.