Shortbread is pretty irresistible. Typically, recipes are only subtly different. I wanted to try this version because it resulted in a tender cookie, incorporated vanilla bean paste, and because it was Deb Perelman’s favorite.
The cookies were definitely more tender than any other shortbread I’ve made in the past. This is the result from using confectioners’ sugar instead of granulated sugar and from the semolina flour.
I made them for our St. Patrick’s Day dessert. Deb Perelman re-posted the recipe when the new Ted Lasso season began. 🙂 The recipe was adapted from smittenkitchen.com. I liked the cutting and shaping method. I weighed all of the dry ingredients.
Yield: about 24 cookies
- 2 sticks (1 cup/230 grams/8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 80 grams (2/3 cup) powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or almond extract or lemon or orange zest or extracts)
- 250 grams (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 45 g (1/4 cup) semolina flour
- Heat your oven to 300°F. (I set my oven to convection.)
- Line an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. (No need to grease.)
- In a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt together, scraping frequently, until butter is soft. (see note below for alternatively using a food processor)
- Add flavoring of choice and flour, and mix just until combined, scraping down the bowl again. This is the same order as for a hand mixer, but with a hand mixer, you’ll want the butter semi-softened first.
- Add dough to the prepared baking pan in chunks. Use hands to press evenly into the pan, then an offset spatula or the base of a measuring cup to smooth the top.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven to cut into shapes. Leave oven on.
- Shape the cookies: For the 8-inch square pan: Repeatedly lay a bamboo skewer on the top of the cookie square to make an imprint to help you cut it into 3 even columns (about 2.5 inches wide) in one direction and 8 thin bars (just shy of 1 inch) in the other. Use the back of a wooden skewer to drag across the surface, making slightly indented lines first, then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan. (For a 9-inch round pan: Use a 2 to 3-inch round cookie cutter or glass to cut the center. Then, use a skewer (explained above) to gently indent lines like sun rays or the hands of a clock from the inner circle to the outer edge of the cookie so that they’re your desired size wedges. Then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan.
- Dock the cookies all over, about 1/3 deep, with the back of the skewer (for bigger dots) or the pointy end (for smaller holes).
- Return pan to the oven for another 25 to 35 minutes, until cookies have a deep golden edge but are mostly pale across the top. Watch closely in the last 10 to 15 minutes so they don’t over bake.
- Let cool in pan, or, if you’re impatient, let them cool for 10 minutes, and then remove them.
Note: In a food processor: Combine powdered sugar, salt, and flour in the work bowl, pulsing a few times. Add flavoring of choice and butter and pulse several times to chop the butter down into smaller pieces. Then, run the machine until it is fully incorporated, coming together in a smooth mass, 1 to 2 minutes more. Scrape down the bowl a few times for even mixing.
Do ahead: Shortbread keeps for 1 week, if not longer, at room temperature. It freezes well too, just wrap it tight.