Are you looking for a sweet, buttery, flakey, crisp nugget of delight that is easy to make? Then you want to make shortbread! Shortbread cookies are basically three ingredients, sugar, flour and butter. Once you have mastered the basic dough, the possibilities for flavor are endless.
I like to add citrus zest, dried fruit, spices or toffee bits. I have rolled the dough in spices, nuts, sprinkles or seeds. Once the dough is baked I have dipped them in white and dark chocolate just to make them extra sweet and special. As I said, the only thing that is standing between you an amazing cookie is your imagination.
I started with Martha Stewart’s Icebox Shortbread recipe (Click here to view Martha’s version).
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter*, at room temp
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus a bit more for rolling out your dough
*Note: If you did not get your butter out of the fridge in time here’s a quick tip. Place both sticks in a microwave safe bowl. Set your microwave to defrost .01 pounds. Let the microwave run for about 10 seconds using the defrost setting. Touch the sticks and see if you can make a dent in the butter. If you finger dips easily into the butter then it is ready to use. Watch this really close. If you leave it to0 long you will get melted butter and that is not what you need for this recipe.
The dough ingredients will create the base for your cookie. The mixings ingredients are unlimited. There are several on Martha’s website. Here are a few that I have done in the past.
- Mixology 1: 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 cup of toffee bits
- Mixology 2: The zest of a lemon, lime and an orange
- Mixology 3: 1 cup of toasted coconut, roughly chopped, ½ cup of finely chopped pecans. Once the cookie is baked, drizzle the cookie with melted chocolate and caramel.
This post is going to explore the use of dried fruit and nuts as well as cutting out the cookies with a cutter, rather than the traditional shaping it into a log and slicing to bake. The slice and bake method is a good one and I highly recommend having this cookie dough in your freezer for surprise visitors. They are a perfect pairing with a warm cup of black tea, a steaming hot mug of coffee or an ice cold bowl of ice cream.
Step 1: Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Step 2: Roughly chop 1 cup of dried cherries.
Step 3: Finely chop 1 cup of pecans. I use my food processor to chop up. I don’t want pecan dust but smaller pieces are the best for these cookies.
Step 4: Make the dough (See above for ingredient list). I use my KitchenAid mixer and a paddle attachment to stir up this dough but you could certainly do it by hand as long as your butter is at room temperature.
Step 5: Add in 1 tsp of vanilla. My niece and I like to make our own vanilla by soaking vanilla beans in a good quality vodka. It takes about six weeks to get something usable but totally worth it.
Step 6: Mix the cherries and the pecans into your batter.
Step 7: Dump the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Close up the paper and place it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This allows the dough to get cold, making it easier to roll out.
Step 8: After 15 minutes, take the dough out of the refrigerator. Cut the dough in the half and roll it out to a ½ inch thickness. Remember this dough does not have a leavening agent, such as baking soda or baking powder, so what you see is what you get. The dough expands a little when you bake it but not much.
Step 9: Once the dough is rolled to the right thickness use a cookie cutter to cut out cookies.
Step 10: Place the cookies about a half inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Step 11: Bake the cookies about 10-12 minutes or until the cookie looks dry on top and light brown around the edges. The baking time is dependent upon the size and thickness of your cookie.
Step 12: Move the cherry-pecan shortbread to a baking rack and allow at least 30 minutes to cool.
Baker’s Note: Placing the cookies on a baking rack allows the cookies to get air all around them as they cool. This means that the heat from the cookie is not allowing moisture to work into the bottom of the cookie. This makes for a crisper cookie on the bottom. Baker’s racks are less than $10 and totally worth having if you like to bake.
Pour a cup of your favorite hot beverage and enjoy a few pieces of buttery, sweet, nutty shortbread.
Talk to you soon!