Butter, sugar, salt and flour – they form the base of many cookie doughs, but they are the sum total of the ingredients in shortbread. I added vanilla to this batch, but they would be perfect without it. Not much competes with the butter flavor in shortbread, so make sure you use butter – no margarine allowed.
If I had wanted to make these over the top, I would have used premium butter, or maybe a cultured cream European butter. I went with the $7 for four pounds butter from Sam’s, and they are marvelous. But better butter would make them better, to paraphrase Betty Botter and her nursery rhyme. Not that they really need to be better – I couldn’t stop trying the broken ones, though I resisted eating any full cookies. I am making these for after church treats on Sunday, and I would rather not have to make another batch.
I mixed these up in less than five minutes. A quick press in the pan and they were ready to bake. And, as they are so rich, you can cut them into small portions. Five minutes work, two sticks of butter, 15 minutes baking and you have enough goodies for a crowd. Just keep your hands off until you are ready to serve them.
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 3-4 dozen, depending on size
1 cup butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamy. Add flour and salt and mix until well combined.
Place dough in a 9 by 13 inch pan and press out into an even layer. Prick surface all over with a fork and sprinkle heavily with sugar. Bake about 15 minutes, until edges just start to brown and middle is set. If in doubt, turn oven off and leave pan in oven for 5 minutes more.
Place pan on a rack and gently cut into squares, rectangles or diamonds. Let cool 15 minutes on pan and then remove pieces to rack to cool thoroughly.
These keep for weeks in an airtight container.