Every year for Christmas my dad asks for a tin of Walker's Shortbread. He loves it, and I don't think it would feel like Christmas without it. A few years ago I realized that my dad's shortbread is just about the only cookie we buy (as opposed to make) in our family and I decided it was time to try making my own - I figured it couldn't be too hard, right?
And it's not! Just a few ingredients get mixed up by hand and pressed into a round cake pan then turned out onto a cookie sheet. Half an hour later you have crisp, buttery shortbread that just gets better over the next few days (the flavor gets better and better for about 48 hours after baking). It's delicious, but simple enough that the kids can help make it (older kids could make this on their own). So now when my dad comes to visit the boys and I make a batch of shortbread just for him...although the boys have a tough time not stealing at least one piece...
Simple + Delicious Shortbread Recipe
yield 16 slices
2 C flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salk
1/2 C powdered sugar
1 C butter
1 t vanilla
2 T granulated sugar
Soften butter and add all other ingredients EXCEPT granulated sugar, mixing together by hand with a beater or fork until crumbly (see steph-by-step photos below). Dump crumbs onto counter or piece of wax paper and gently work them together using kneading motion until ball of dough forms. Press into 8 or 9 inch circular cake pan that has been lined with wax paper. Press until smooth, then turn out onto a cookie sheet. Pull off wax paper and gently smooth with a rolling pin if needed. Prick with fork then sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until edges start to brown (a little less time if using a 9 inch cake pan, a little more for an 8 inch - I actually baked mine 28 minutes and it was perfect). Remove from oven and use a long sharp knife to cut into slices immediately. Let cook completely on cookie sheet.
Here's how it will look when you begin stirring it together:
And here it's formed into a ball:
Press into cake pan:
Turn out onto cookie sheet:
Use fork to prick holes in a design:
Bake until edges are browning:
I generally undercook baked goods, but you DO NOT want to undercook shortbread. If you do, it will end up heavy and kind of smooshed in the middle, instead of light and crisp and perfectly crumb-like. If it's cooked correctly, once it's sliced it will have the same look and texture all the way through, like this:
If you slice it and can see a darker area in the middle, that means it was a little underdone and you should add a few more minutes next time.
Now, shortbread's pretty darn awesome all by itself, but being me, I always feel like it could use a bit of chocolate. I melted milk chocolate chips in the microwave (stir every 30 seconds to be sure it doesn't burn) and then placed the melted chocolate in a sandwich baggie. I snipped off one of the corners and used it to drizzle chocolate across the top.
I left some pieces plain, for the shortbread purists, drizzled others with chocolate, and spread an even thicker layer of chocolate on that last few. The pieces with the drizzle were my favorite, along with a mug of hot cocoa. Simple and delicious.
(BTW, I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and I noticed a few people had written reviews complaining about how much butter was in the recipe. Yup, that's a lot of butter. And that's why shortbread tastes so good.)
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