Quite popular around Christmas time and the Scottish New Year, shortbread emerges in many different forms, including festive iced cookies and drier accompaniments to your cup of coffee. Shortbread is a rich pastry usually made with four simple ingredients: butter, eggs, sugar and flour. After baking, the biscuit becomes tender-crisp treat with a crumbly texture. To avoid browning, shortbread is baked at a low temperature. When it comes out of the oven, it is nearly white or a light golden brown color.
Basic Vanilla Shortbread
Ingredients needed to make a basic shortbread include ¾ (1 ½ cups or 3 sticks) of unsalted butter at room temperature, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer (that has a paddle attachment), mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, and then add the ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix the dough on low speed until it starts to come together. Once mixed, dump the dough onto a surface dusted with flour. Use your hands to bring everything together. Divide the dough into four pieces. Flatten slightly. Wrap each piece in plastic and put into the refrigerator to chill.
This recipe will make about 48 small shortbreads.
What to Do with Shortbread Dough…
Some people will roll the shortbread dough and cut out shapes to bake as cookies. Others use the dough to make a range of sweet creations. There are plenty of variations you may consider when making a simple shortbread recipe. You can:
• Cut into the shape of diamonds and dip an end in chocolate
• Make thumbprint cookies topped with fruit preserves
• Tea cookies dusted with confectioners (or powdered) sugar
• Brushed with a lemon glaze and decorated with sprinkles