Electric mixer with paddle attachment
3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
- Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with the cookie cutter of your choice. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
NOTE: The dough can be frozen in logs wrapped in parchment and plastic wrap. When you need cookies in a snap, pull the log out, slice, and bake.
Top 10 Shortbread Variations
- Drizzle with tempered white or milk chocolate or homemade caramel sauce.
- Dip half in white chocolate, sprinkle with pistachios.
- Decorate with royal icing.
- Sandwich two cookies together with dulce de leche for a take on Alfajores, a South American dessert.
- Sandwich cookies together with a frosting or jam of your choice.
- Glaze with flavored icing. Some ideas: passion fruit, cinnamon, lemon, vanilla, lavender.
- Bake them as thumbprint cookies, pressing down on the center and adding jam before putting them in the oven.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar use a small sifter.
- Glaze with thin vanilla icing and sprinkle with crushed candy canes, sprinkles, diced, dried fruits or crushed nuts.
- Bake the cut cookies in a mini-muffin or tartlette pan, using them as the crust for small cookie tarts. Great with jam, fruit curds, pastry cream, or other sweet tart fillings.