It is Christmas and the baking has already begun. One of the traditions in our family was and is… shortbread. It is a very simple cookie to make – there are only three ingredients to the basic shortbread: butter, sugar and flour. This simple cookie, made properly and left to age for a few days is simply divine!
There are many variations you can find but to my mind, the simple shortbread is the perfect cookie. Some make a whipped version but the resulting cookie is very airy and crumbly. Some add brown sugar which colours the final product. Cornstarch makes the cookie melt in your mouth. Rice flour gives a crunchy texture. Some dip the shortbread in chocolate. You can dress up the cookie with various colours of royal icing and candy or candied fruit. However, in my mind, the simpler the better.
So here is a simple recipe for a wonderful shortbread. Be sure to let it age at least a day, covered at room temperature.
1 cup unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup icing sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp pure vanilla (optional)
Set oven to 325ºF. Cream butter, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. When creamy, add in the flour and vanilla, if using, and mix at slow speed until the flour is well combined – do not over mix. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into shapes and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until the bottom edge of the cookie starts to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool. Transfer to a covered container and let age.