Thursday, July 7, 2011
Buttery Shortbread Cookies
These cookies helped change my perception of shortbread. Before, my thoughts of shortbread were of the box of Girl Scout cookies that sat unopened in the pantry months after the thin mints were gone. These shortbreads, however, probably won't make it very long in your pantry at all. That's because it's pretty hard to resist eating them. I polished off my test batch at an embarrassingly quick pace. Rich and buttery, sweet without being overly so, these cookies are what shortbreads should be. I wound up eating a lot of them with my coffee, finding it an unexpected compliment, and imagine they would be good with tea as well.
The original directions for this recipe call for these to be rolled cookies. But I could not get the dough to roll out. I tried both refrigeration and additional flour to no avail. It is pretty humid here, but I also have central air and can't be sure the weather is to blame. I tried rolling the dough into balls and pressing down with a drinking glass, but the dough was too sticky to pull off the glass cleanly. Finally, I decided to press the dough balls with my fingers. Not only did this work, but the dough squished a little around my middle finger, creating an attractive ridged appearance. I am a bit sad I didn't get to use my Hello Kitty cookie cutter but still very happy with how these cookies wound up looking.
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. superfine sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon (I chose to zest the whole lemon, because I love lemon)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
granulated sugar for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add in the superfine sugar. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Incorporate the flour mixture into the butter mixture in small batches. The dough should come together and clean the sides of the bowl.
3. Refrigerate dough for about a half an hour (this step can be skipped if it's cold in your kitchen). Roll dough into one-inch balls. Place balls on parchment paper and press down with your first three fingers. Recipe makes about 26 cookies.
4. Bake cookies for about 15 minutes, or until edges turn a very light brown. Do not over bake. Remove cookies from oven and immediately sprinkle with desired amount of granulated sugar (sugar will only stick when cookies are hot). Let cookies rest on their baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Store cooled cookies in an air-tight container.
Source: Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours