When we were traveling in Scotland and staying in B&Bs, every one had a tin of shortbread cookies and a tea kettle. That in no small part (along with the Full English Breakfasts and frequent trips to the Pub), and in spite of us going for 10 mile hikes every other day, contributed to both of us gaining 5 pounds upon our return to the States.
But being Scottish myself and loving shortbread cookies, I decided to make some the other night. The basic recipe is one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. No leavening, eggs, or milk. The trick is knowing when they are done when you bake them. If you use salted butter leave out the salt. If you take the butter right out of the fridge, use a grater to cut it into pieces before you mix it with the sugar. I don’t own a stand mixer and I used a hand mixer and it worked just fine.
Please use parchment paper here. Silicone baking mats are notoriously bad for cookies. See here.
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature – 142g
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – 180g
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt optional
1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and vanilla extract until creamed.
2. Add confectioners sugar and salt; mix until combined.
3. Scrape bowl down and add flour while beating on low. Scrape bowl once more and mix until combined.
4. Shape the dough into a rectangular brick, wrap in plastic and chill until firm. At least an hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350F. Use a sharp knife to cut 1/2 inch thick slices
6. Place slices, spaced at least an inch apart onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
7. Use a fork or skewer to indent a pattern onto the top.
8. Bake until the bottoms are just starting to brown about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet in the oven halfway through.
9. Transfer to a wire sheet to cool.