Monday, November 12, 2007

Vanilla Shortbread

I love shortbread. This one is a bit work intensive with the rolling, but if you chill the dough well, the results are fabulously flaky, buttery cookies. The recipe calls for them to be 1/4 of an inch thick-I prefer my cookies about 1/2 inch.

1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
pinch salt
1 3/4 cup flour (approximately)

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat well. In a different bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Gently stir into the butter mixture, 1/3 at a time, stirring in the last 1/3 by hand. I found that I didn't quite need the entire 1 3/4 cup flour...more like 1 1/2 cups +1 1/2 tbsp.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and form into a disk. Divide in 1/2. Between 2 pieces of waxed paper, roll out each disc to 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Put in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.

Using a floured cookie cutter, cut into shapes and transfer to cookie sheet. Re-roll scraps and chill before cutting out more shapes-when the dough becomes soft it's too hard to work with. Continue until all the dough is cut into shapes.

Chill the pans of cookies in the fridge for about 2 hours. Before doing so, I added silver dragees, chocolate chips, etc by pressing them into the tops of the cookies.

Bake the cookies in the center of the oven at 275F for 40 minutes, rotating and switching the pans halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool on the pans for about 2 minutes before transferring them (if you don't they may break when you try to move them), and then transfer to racks so they can cool completely.

These keep well at room temp for 1 week or freeze for up to a month-you can also make them ahead by freezing the pre-cut, uncooked dough in a sealed plastic container and add a few minutes to the baking time.

Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, you should end up with 2-3 dozen cookies. You could get quite creative with these babies by adding glazes, icing, using peppermint or maple flavoring instead of vanilla, dipping them in chocolate and then in sprinkles, etc. Have fun!

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