I think everyone has a love for shortbread cookies right? They sell them everywhere, usually covered in a thick layer of Royal icing at all the coffee shops (yes, I mean Starbucks).
I like a simple, pure, all butter shortbread. This essentially has 3 ingredients (not counting the vanilla and salt – those are staples for flavour).
This is what I would call a 1-2-3 (or 4 really) recipe. 1 part powdered sugar, 2 parts butter and 4 parts flour. So whatever measurements you want, just remember to start with this formula.
I love the idea of not having to bring butter to room temperature, as I happen to be a “spur of the moment” sort of baker, when I’m bored I bake. And I don’t often have room temperature butter unless I plan ahead to bake.
After trying out Smitten Kitchen’s rugelach recipe, which she does in her food processor, I decided I would give this a idea go. No need to have room temperature butter, just use it straight from the fridge. YAY!!
So start off by measuring out your flour and powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt. Pulse a couple of times in the food processor. Then chop up your cold from the fridge butter into smaller pieces, add this to the food processor and pulse 20 times. You should end up with very tiny pieces of butter throughout your flour mixture.
At this point add in your vanilla (this is the only real liquid going in). Then turn your food processor on for 1 1/2 minutes, just let it run. After the 1 1/2 minutes you will notice the “dough” starts to clump together. This is about as far as you want to take it in the food processor.
Dump your dough out into a bowl, and knead the dough for about 1 minute, until all the crumbs come together to form a nice dough. (oops – camera died so there’s no photo of it all together – but you get it, a nice dough right??).
Divide the dough into two portions and wrap with plastic wrap and place into the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour. Try not to chill the dough too much, as this is a crumbly dough and if it gets too cold it will fall apart. Seriously.
Once the dough has chilled, roll out onto a lightly floured counter. (I’m going to try in the future to roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper and see if this helps as I don’t like adding flour to the dough as it makes it more crumbly – if that’s a word, sure it is, because I just used it right, so that makes it a word). If you get cracks in your dough, simply push them back together. Then cut out your cookies, I used a 1 1/2 inch square cutter, but you can use any type of cutter you wish, just remember the larger the cutter the less cookies you will get. I got 70 – 1 1/2 inch cookies, probably could have gotten a few more, but I just munched on the scraps of dough.
Once you’ve rolled the dough and cut out your cookies, transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet. You don’t need too much room between the cookies, just make sure they’re not touching, as they won’t spread very much if at all. Then place the pan of cookies back into the fridge, this dough needs to be cold when baked to ensure it holds it’s shape.
Start to pre-heat your oven to 350°F.
Once your dough has chilled out for an hour, I bake the pans one at a time, I had 2 pans, for 15 minutes. The cookies get a nice slightly golden brown colour. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets, then transfer to an air tight container.
You can do so many things with these cookies, from dipping them in chocolate (I did this for Valentines Day), to piping them with royal icing, or sandwiching them with fillings such as Dolce Du Leche or ganache or jam. Your choice. The possibilities are endless.
(Makes approx. 70 – 1 1/2 inch square cookies)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, cold, chopped
2 cups flour, all purpose
pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste
- In the bowl of the food processor, pulse your powdered sugar, flour and salt together to combine.
- Add in the cold chopped butter, pulse 20 times.
- Add in vanilla, turn food processor on and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.
- Dump dough into a bowl and knead for 1 minute until the dough comes together into a smooth dough.
- Divide dough into two pieces and wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 45 minutes to an hour.
- On a lightly floured counter, roll out one piece of the dough at a time, then cut out using whichever cutter you wish, place cut outs onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with second piece of dough. Gathering scrapes and knead them back together, reroll and cut out once more (please note the rerolled dough with be even more delicate than the original cookies so be gentle).
- Place the baking sheets with the cut outs in the fridge for an hour. And start to pre-heat your oven to 350°F.
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 15 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets, then transfer to an air tight container for up to a week.
**You can decorate these cookies, dip them in chocolate or even fill them with whatever your heart desires**