Sweetheart Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread, like the sugar cookie, is incredibly versatile. A classic shortbread recipe can be baked in many ways, easily adapted for different holidays and celebrations. This recipe, based on King Arthur Flour’s Essential Shortbread, is one I’ve adapted many times, always with great results.

Today’s adaptation involves both vanilla and almond extracts, as well as valentine sprinkles. They’re on their way to North Carolina for my nephew Roman, as part of his Valentine’s Day gift.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 ounces flour (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons)
  • Wilton Micro Hearts Sprinkles

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Add flour and beat to combine; the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl when it’s ready.

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, scoop generous portions and roll into balls. Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten with the bottom of a drinking glass.

Place sprinkles in a shallow bowl and press the tops of each cookie into the sprinkles to coat. Return to baking sheets, placed about 2 inches apart, and bake for 25 minutes, until edges and bottoms are firm and just starting to turn golden.

Cool on baking sheets for about 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. If shipping, pack between layers of waxed paper.

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Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Shortbread

How does one improve upon chocolate shortbread? One adds miniature chocolate chips, that’s how.

These treats are also bound for my dear friend Amanda out in California. In a recent Facebook exchange about my intent to bake for her, her husband Yannick requested chocolate. And so, along with Amanda’s Lemon Shortbread, the Lizé family will also receive Yannick’s Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Shortbread. I hope they enjoy the treats!

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Dutch process cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch round baking pan.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, salt, sugar, and vanilla, then add cocoa, baking powder, and flour and beat until well-combined. The dough will pull away from the sides of the pan when it’s ready; once it does, stir in the chocolate chips.

Press dough into the bottom of the baking pan, using the palm of your hand to flatten the dough as much as possible, then prick the dough all over with a fork.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top appears set. Remove from oven and loosen the sides with a knife, then cool in pans for 5 minutes.

Carefully turn one shortbread round out onto a cutting board and cut into 16 wedges; place wedges on a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Amanda’s Lemon Shortbread

These lemon shortbread cookies are a new creation, made especially for my very dear friend Amanda out in California. You may remember Amanda from my post on Lady Liberty Cookies – we’ve been friends forever, and I hope these treats brighten her day. Her birthday is this month, and she’s having surgery soon – she has rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that’s way more complex than most people might imagine.

To create Amanda’s Lemon Shortbread, I took a basic shortbread recipe and added lemon in every way possible; zest and extract get mixed into the batter, then you roll the dough in lemon sugar (which is just sugar mixed with lemon zest). I hope she loves them!

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest of 1 medium lemon, divided
  • 5 ounces flour (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and half the lemon zest. Stir with a fork to combine very well.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, 6 tablespoons sugar, salt, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and the remaining half of the lemon zest. Add flour and beat to combine; the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl when it’s ready.

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, scoop generous portions and roll into balls, then dip in the lemon sugar. Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten with the bottom of a drinking glass to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until edges and bottoms are golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for about 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or mail them to one of your very best friends in the whole world.

 

Shortbread II

shortbread-iiThis is probably the best shortbread recipe I’ve ever found. Again, I say that the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion is changing my life, as this recipe comes from the first page of its shortbread chapter.

Some of the best treats are made of simple ingredients, and this is no exception. A delicious concoction of butter, salt, sugar, vanilla extract, and flour, this recipe is incredibly easy to make and serves several people, which explains why I’ve baked so many rounds of it for Christmas so far.

You could certainly drizzle this with chocolate, but I strongly recommend trying a few wedges plain just so you get the full effect of its buttery deliciousness. While the original recipe calls for slicing each round into 12 wedges, I slice mine into 16 wedges for smaller servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces (about 2 1/3 cups) flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Add flour and beat to combine completely. The dough will be ready when it pulls away from the sides of your mixing bowl.

Divide dough in half and press into the bottom of each cake pan, using the palm of your hand to create an even surface.

Bake for 32-35 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and gently loosen the sides, then allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Gently flip onto a cutting board and slice into 16 wedges, then place wedges on a wire rack to cool completely.

Store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Note: shortbread must be cut while it’s still warm; once it cools, if you try to cut it, it will break.

Triple Chocolate Shortbread

triple-chocolate-shortbreadThis recipe was inspired by a cake that my friend Scott’s family has made for many years, an ultra-chocolatety confection involving chocolate cake, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, and chocolate ganache frosting. I worried at first that these treats would been too chocolatey (because yes, there is such a thing), but was assured by everyone who tried them that they were indeed delicious.

You could certainly use different kinds of chocolate or chocolate chips to dress up the shortbread itself, but according to Scott (a chocolate expert for sure), the semi-sweet glaze and miniature chips are just perfect. Make sure you sprinkle on your miniature chocolate chips immediately after you glaze each wedge so they stick.

Ingredients

For the chocolate shortbread

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ounce (about 1/3 cup) Dutch-process cocoa
  • 7 1/4 ounces (about 1 3/4 cups) flour

For the glaze

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • About 1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips, for sprinkling

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla, then beat in cocoa powder and flour.

Divide dough into two 12-ounce portions and press each portion into the bottom of the cake pans, using the palm of your hand to flatten the dough as evenly as possible.

Bake for 32-35 minutes, until it appears done around the edges. Remove from oven and loosen the sides with a knife, then cool in pans for 5 minutes.

Carefully turn one shortbread round out onto a cutting board and cut into 16 wedges; place wedges on a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the second round. Allow wedges to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, melt 1 cup chocolate chips and shortening over low heat (or in the microwave), stirring until smooth.

Using a spoon, pour glaze over each wedge, then sprinkle on miniature chocolate chips. Place glazed wedges on parchment or waxed paper and allow to set completely before storing.

Store in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper at room temperature for about 4-5 days. Makes 32 wedges.

Note: shortbread will break if you try to cut it once it’s cool, so you must cut the rounds into wedges while they’re still warm.

Chocolate Shortbread

chocolate-shortbreadThe possibilities of shortbread are endless; you can glaze it, fill it, flavor it with all manner of extracts and spices. This recipe for chocolate shortbread is an adaptation on one from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, also known as my new bible.

I used sweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder because that was all I could find at the store, but you can certainly order the unsweetened variety from King Arthur Flour online. Dutch-process cocoa powder is not the same as natural cocoa powder; it is a less acidic version, will yield a different taste, and won’t react with baking soda to create leavening. As such, recipes that use Dutch process cocoa usually rely on baking powder for leavening, so make sure you don’t use the two interchangeably. In this recipe, we don’t have to worry about a leavening agent, but I did scale back my sugar to adjust the sweetness. I’ve also begun weighing the flour in my shortbread recipes, so the measurements below are given in both weight and volume; I strongly recommend using a kitchen scale and weighing instead of measuring my volume.

These treats were quite popular in my office this week. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ounce (about 1/3 cup) Dutch-process cocoa
  • 7 1/4 ounces (about 1 3/4 cups) flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla, then beat in cocoa powder and flour.

Divide dough into two 12-ounce portions and press each portion into the bottom of the cake pans, using the palm of your hand to flatten the dough as evenly as possible.

Bake for 32-35 minutes, until it appears done around the edges. Remove from oven and loosen the sides with a knife, then cool in pans for 5 minutes.

Carefully turn one shortbread round out onto a cutting board and cut into 16 wedges; place wedges on a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the second round.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about 4-5 days. Makes 32 wedges.

Note: shortbread will break if you try to cut it once it’s cool, so you must cut the rounds into wedges while they’re still warm.

Almond-Filled Shortbread

almond-filled-shortbreadShortbread filled with almond paste? Yes, it is just as delicious as it sounds.

While experimenting with raspberry-filled shortbread last weekend, I decided to take the advice of the incredibly talented bakers at King Arthur Flour and fill my second shortbread round with almond paste. The result is a sturdier cookie than the jam-filled variety, and now I have to wonder…what would happen if I put both almond paste and jam into the same shortbread round? We’ll save that experiment for another day.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces flour (about 2 1/3 cups; I used a food scale to measure mine)
  • 1 cup almond paste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla, then beat in flour.

Divide dough into four pieces, about 6 ounces each (I’d recommend 5.7 or 5.8 ounces each to divide as evenly as possible).

Place an 8-inch round cake pan upside down on your counter top and cover with plastic wrap. Press one portion of dough onto the plastic wrap, covering the bottom of the pan completely – you’ll need to be careful, as the dough can tear as it stretches. Wrap the circle of dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate while repeating this step with each remaining portion.

Gently knead your almond paste, then divide it into two portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your paste into a circle about 7 1/2 inches wide.

Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans; remove dough circles from the fridge. Peel plastic wrap off the first circle of dough and press into the bottom of one cake pan; top with almond paste, leaving about 1/2 inch bare border around the edges. Top with another circle of dough and gently press the edges to seal them. Prick all over with a fork all the way through each layer. Repeat with the third and fourth circles of dough in the other pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and loosen the sides with a knife, then cool in pans for 10 minutes.

Carefully turn the shortbread out onto two cutting boards and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then cut into wedges. I cut mine into 16 wedges each for slimmer slices.

Makes 32 wedges.