Shortbread: Decadently Delicious

 

Shortbread cookies are decadently delcious.

Hey, pay attention! You try beggin’ and see how you like it. Now, how about sharing some of those cookies?

I must admit, I had no idea why they called it shortbread so of course I looked it up.  According to Wikipedia, “Shortbread is so named because of its crumbly texture (from an old meaning of the word short). The cause of this texture is its high fat content, provided by the butter. The short or crumbly texture is a result of the fact that the fat inhibits the formation of long protein (gluten) strands.”

 

Okay, all that is great if you’re into the science of cooking, but I just like shortbread because it’s quick and simple to make—plus, yummy to eat.  Of course, Shortbread has lots of butter and sugar so the yum factor should hardly come as a surprise.

 

One rather unique aspect to making shortbread cookies involves oven temperature.  While most cookies tend to bake around 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit, shortbread bakes at a much lower 300 degrees, and for up to twice the normal cooking time.  As I understand it, a lower temperature helps avoid excess browning, which I suppose is also a reason to stick to more traditional flours.  This means skip whole wheat and use white wheat flour or oat flour—the latter is considered more traditional.

 

An unfrosted shortbread cookie.

No matter the shape and with or without frosting, these cookies are delicious.

More often than not, shortbread comes in the form of a biscuit rather than a cookie, meaning a little thicker (i.e. 1/4 inch) and often formed into squares or flattened rounds.  However, as I’m not one to get hung up on such things, I say make them any shape you like.  Personally, I like a skinnier cookie with a touch of frosting.  Hey, if you’re going for a sugar/butter overload, why do without frosting?

 

My wife made today’s shortbread cookies after experimenting with three different family recipes. We quickly concluded there are some distinct differences in flavors based on flour type and other ingredients.  However, to save time, we’ll just leave off with the one we consider the best of the bunch.

 

 

Let’s Gather The Ingredients

 

This will be quick.  Here’s all we’ll need:

 

Gathering my ingredients.

Oops, I need 2 sticks of butter. Better run to the store.

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar packed

2-1/4 cups white flour (substitute oat or part oat if you prefer)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 2 teaspoons water if needed (see below)

 

Preparation

 

Allow the butter to set out for a few hours in order to soften.  This makes the job much easier.

 

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Whipping the butter in my Kitchenaid.

This shortbread was short work in my mixer.

In your mixer, add the butter and whip it until it’s creamy and soft.

 

Add the sugars and continue mixing until well-combined.

 

Mixing in the flour.

Combine the salt and flour separately and then gradually add in to the rest.

Mix the flour and salt separately and then gradually add the combination to the butter/sugar mix. Note: Butter often has varying water content which can result in a dough that doesn’t want to stick together. If you run into this problem add about 1/2 teaspoon water and mix again.  You can add additional water if needed, but do this in small increments.

 

Once the dough forms to your satisfaction, turn your mixer off and roll out on a flour-dusted counter or pastry cloth.   Now, cut into desired shapes and place on a baking sheet.

 

I'm getting ready to bake.

Roll out the dough, cut it into your desired shapes, and then place them on parchment paper or directly on a baking sheet.

 

Bake cookies for about 20-22 minutes, depending on your pan and oven.

 

‘Nilla Butter Frosting

 

A plate of frosted cookies.

They don’t need it, but the frosting is delicious.

If you like, you can frost these shortbread cookies to make them even more decadent.  If you haven’t made frosting yourself, this vanilla butter recipe is a good place to start.  Here’s what you’ll need:

 

2-1/2 tablespoons softened butter

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (add a little more if too wet)

1-1/2 tablespoons milk (substitute cream or egg nog if you prefer)

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Boy, I like frosted cookies.

The frosting will eventually set, so frost right after mixing.

To make the frosting start by blending the butter and sugar in a small bowl with a fork or small whisk.  Then stir in the cream and vanilla.  If the frosting is a little too wet, add a small amount of powdered sugar until you’re satisfied.  When done, frost the cookies and sprinkle with your favorite crystallized sugar.

 

Enjoy!

 

 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please share it with your friends.
 

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