Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread is one of those great cookies that you can usually make on the spur of the moment with no planning.

With only three ingredients, there's a good chance they're all in your pantry and refrigerator at any time. You also don't have to pull out a mixer or even cookie cutters for this traditional sweet.

The key to shortbread is using real butter! It's really tempting these days to switch to margarine or other substitutes, but when it comes to baking (and particularly pastry) the difference is very noticeable. In shortbread, where the buttery taste and melt in your mouth texture is the attraction, going for cheap oil based fake butters will leave you with an inferior cookie.

So, let's get started. This particular recipe is for a Lemon Shortbread but you can leave out the lemon for a plain shortbread or even substitute orange in its place. Also, if you don't have lemon peel handy just use a teaspoon or two of lemon extract.

1 cup butter (softened)
2/3 cup Confectioner's Sugar
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat in lemon zest. Stir in flour a little at a time, until dough starts to hold together. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly until you form a nice disk. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour until it's workable. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness (or a bit more). Cut dough with sharp knife into squares or cut into circles using a cookie cutter or wineglass. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet (using a silicone mat or parchment paper is a good idea). Using a sharp fork prick each cookie in several places. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until bottoms are just browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Makes about two dozen (depending on size).

This is a very quick and basic recipe that you can also expand. You can add pecans or almonds to the dough and cut thicker to make Sandies. You can top with drizzled melted chocolate or even go back to our old lemon glaze standby and frost them. But, they're great just plain. Very buttery and with just enough of a citrus taste to add some interest.

Enjoy, y'all!

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