Shortbread cookies were my first sultry love. They were the first cookie I remember putting in the oven myself, unchangingly for the holidays, unchangingly wearing a kid-sized apron. I’ve ripened some strong opinions on the shortbread front over the years, and I’m going to talk you through the difference between unconfined shortbread cookies and the ones that are just so-so. Shortbread cookies can be the weightier cookie on any cookie tray (controversial take, I know!), and this post will walk you through how. I’ve featured shortbread many variegated ways on the site over the years, but love whorled when to this buttery, golden, archetype shortbread version.
The Secret to Unconfined Shortbread Cookies
I should say secrets, plural, considering there are unquestionably a few that will help tumor your shortbread game from good to great.
- Salt: Let’s start with this, it’s an easy one. A lot of shortbread cookie recipes are under salted, and that can leave them tasting unappetizing and boring. Others undeniability for salted butter which can be great, but it’s harder to tenancy seasoning levels. I’m not saying go wild on the salt front, but treat it like a pillar ingredient. It is the ingredient that will bring the toasted butter, sugar, and flour into perfect focus.
- Thickness: For archetype shortbread cookies like these, I like to go thick. I’ve found that rolling out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness is too thin, and a full-inch is too thick. I aim for somewhere in the 3/4-inch zone. This allows for golden husks with well-done velvety whet and a tender center.
- Baking Time: I’ve provided guidance in the recipe for sultry time, but in reality it’s all well-nigh having an eagle eye and good nose here. Use your sight and smell. A lot of the shortbread I’ve come wideness over the years is too pale, nearly white. That’s not what I’m after. Shortbread that is unliable to get tip top super-golden and toasted where it touches the sultry pan, with a wash of verisimilitude over the rest of the cookie is so much better. That’s how all the savor comes to life. It’s literally the difference between butter and brown butter. Patience and considerateness pays off here. Hover near the oven, let your shortbread get toasty.
Ingredients in Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread magic happens when butter, sugar, flour, and salt come together. The list of ingredients is incredibly short, so you want to make sure each one is on point. Be sure your butter is good-quality, and recently purchased. You don’t want the butter picking up refrigerator odors. When in doubt, taste. I moreover like to use a fresh bag of all purpose flour when sultry shortbread, some flours can pick up off smells and flavors when they’ve been sitting virtually too long. I’m moreover a purist when it comes to shortbread and skip the vanilla pericope you might see in other recipes.
Make-Ahead Shortbread Cookies
The freezer is your friend here and shortbread dough stored in an snapped container or double wrapped in plastic can last frozen for months. You can freeze the cookie dough pre-rollout or proceed through the cutout phase. Once you’ve rolled and cut your dough, transfer the unbaked cookies onto a parchment paper lined sultry sheet and freeze surpassing transferring to an air-tight container. Freeze until ready to bake.
Thick or Thin?
We talked a bit well-nigh this up above, but I have a few other things to say. When it comes to archetype shortbread cookies, I lean towards thick. On the other hand, if I’ve loaded the dough up with zest, nuts, spices, or other flavors, I tend to use a rolling pin to roll the dough out a bit increasingly thinly, wearing the cookies smaller for a increasingly well-matured experience. All of this is personal preference, of course. One thing to think well-nigh here is oven temperature. For thicker shortbread, starting with a slightly hotter oven to set the dough, and then dialing it when a bit can help prevent spread. And with smaller, thinner shortbread you don’t have to worry well-nigh that as much. When in doubt, just alimony an eye on things!
How do I alimony my Shortbread from Spreading?
If you squint at the photos above you can see the difference between properly chilled shortbread dough prior to sultry (circles), and dough that wasn’t chilled long unbearable (rectangles). The circles had their shape perfectly while the larger rectangular slabs had a bit of spread. Flipside hour in the refrigerator or sultry straight from the freezer will likely fix that. If you’re still getting too much spread, reduce the time you’re creaming the butter and sugars, too much air stuff incorporated into the dough can moreover rationalization your cookies to spread. Last, personize your oven temperature is correct, if it is running low, you’re going to have trouble.
Other Shortbread Cookie Ideas
Once you have a shortbread recipe you love in your when pocket (hopefully this one!), you can play virtually with many variables. They’re unconfined for Christmas and beyond.
- Skillet Shortbread: torch directly into a tint iron skillet or printing the dough into a pan, marking with fork tines, then bake. In either case, mark the top of the dough with fork tines, to ensure increasingly plane baking.
- Try Alternative Flours: If you want to introduce other flours to this recipe go for it. I’d start with 20% and make note from there. Rye flour is unchangingly a unconfined starting point, oat flour might be nice, or buckwheat flour. I’m moreover curious well-nigh introducing a percentage of something like almond flour but haven’t experimented with that yet. All would add dimension and depth.
- Sugar Crust: A lot of people love it when you sprinkle large-grain sugar wideness the shortbread dough surpassing baking. You end up with a crunchy sugar husks and some sparkle.
I’ve baked and highlighted many shortbread cookies over years and learned a lot. The Rosewater Shortbread Cookies and Toasted Almond Sables are my favorites in the beyond-classic category, but they all are special in one way or another.
Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread: This is the Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread from Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s Sweet. It’s incredible for a number of reasons. Imagine a crisp, shortbread wiring spread thick with a linty tahini-halva blend, finished with slick tahini caramel. It’s brilliant, and a thin slice makes for the perfect treat.
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies: One of my favorites. Classic, buttery, whole wheat shortbread cookies fragrant with rosewater, flecked with toasted nuts, and zestless rose petals. They have a crunchy dusting of sugar on top that provides a satisfying, sweet tongue scratch, and are punctuated with woebegone sesame. They are the prettiest of the shortbread lot.
Toasted Almond Sable Cookies // Toasty, nutty sable cookies made with whole wheat flour, sliced almonds, currents and salted butter. They are a take-off on Alice Medrich’s mannerly Whole Wheat Sables, published in her typesetting Pure Dessert.
There’s moreover Apple & Carrot Shortbread, Hearst Castle Shortbread Cookies, Pine Nut Rosemary Shortbread Cookies, and Olive Biscuit Cookies. And then, vastitude that, here are all of the cookie recipes and baking recipes. Happy sultry everyone!