Pumpkin Spice Shortbread

I had to, you see. Less than 24 hours into fall, and I had to bake something pumpkin-themed. These pumpkin spice shortbread cookies, adapted from a recipe from The Cafe Sucre Farine, sounded too delicious to pass up.

While the original recipe called for adding a candy pumpkin (the delicious cousins of candy corn) to each baked cookie, I chose to leave mine plain, with just the recommended coating of Demerara sugar for a lovely, crunchy texture. You could use turbinado sugar if you don’t have Demerara, but I highly recommend Demerara for its large crystals. You can find it in most grocery stores in the baking aisle. I also highly recommend eating candy pumpkins!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Demerara sugar, for rolling

*You can make your own pumpkin spice by combining 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon each ginger, allspice, and nutmeg. This makes more than 1 1/2 teaspoons, so just save whatever you have left in a small jar. 

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine flour, pumpkin spice, and salt; set aside

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and beat until completely combined.

Chill dough for about 15 – 20 minutes, allowing it to firm up slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Place Demerara sugar in a small bowl.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls, then dip each ball into Demerara sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets and bake for 14-16 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 30 cookies.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread

My friend Carrie has had a challenging time lately. And because I show love and support to the folks in my life through baked goods, I made her these lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies. As women of Eastern European descent, we have a mutual appreciation for poppy seeds. Carrie is also a fan of tea, and I thought these treats would make a comforting addition to her daily cup.

The base of this shortbread is simple; just five ingredients. Add some lemon zest, lemon extract, and poppy seeds, and you’ve got a fancier version of a basic treat. Next time, I’d like to add a zest lemon drizzle icing to these for an extra flavor kick.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 10 ounces (about 2 1/3 cups) flour
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-inch round baking tins.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, salt, extracts, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add flour and beat until completely combined; the dough will pull away from the sides when it’s ready. Stir in poppy seeds.

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. Note: shortbread must be cut when it’s still warm, otherwise it will break.

Store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Tweed Cakes

What happens when you crush up toffee and stir it into shortbread dough? These amazing tweed cakes, a creation from King Arthur Flour. I sent these along to my dear friend Carrie in State College, Pa. last week, and hope she and her family enjoyed them.

To crush up my toffee bits, it put them in a zip-top bag, wrapped the bag in a towel, and pounded them with the flat side of my meat tenderizer. A rolling pin would also work, or you could use a food processor if you really wanted to. When you press your dough into your pans, you’ll understand why these are called tweed cakes; they definitely resemble tweed fabric. You’ll notice in the recipe below that I measured my flour and toffee bits by weight, as I always do with King Arthur Flour recipes. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can just measure by volume using regular measuring cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, slightly softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces (2 1/3 cups) flour
  • 7 5/8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) crushed toffee bits

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, salt, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat in flour and toffee bits.

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

Bake for 35-40 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.

Makes 32.

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.

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.