Kneading + Knives Does Christmas: Classic Shortbread – Two Ways

T’is the season for cookies…and yes I know I’m a bit late, but technically you still have some time to bust out a nice plate of shortbread for your friends and family.

When I was little, I made shortbread with Super Grams – but she used an old school, three ingredient shortbread recipe that you rolled out into fun shapes.  It’s buttery and melts in your mouth.  I love rolling it out nice and thick and surprisingly, it lends itself well to being a base for some royal icing.img_40361

But as my confidence in baking grew and my palate got a bit more refined, I wanted to try a proper, thick shortbread, like the ones you can buy in the store.  So I went to the Queen of all things kitchen – Martha Stewart – and rest assured, she did NOT disappoint.

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Both recipes were delish and I would recommend having both as options.  If you are a traditionalist and want easy, I would strongly recommend the Martha recipe because there is no rolling – you literally smooth the cookie tough into a tart pan and bake it.

My Super Gram’s recipe is perfect for when you have some time to roll and cut…and if you want a non sugar cookie vessel for cookie decorating.  This is a staple at my annual holiday baking date with my friend and her daughter B. Hands down, this recipe is the sh!t and it’s time tested and works perfectly every single time.

So…without further ado…here are my two shortbread recipes – Super Gram’s and Martha’s.

Om, nom, nom,

Lisa

*****

Super Gram’s Shortbread

yields about 2-dozen cookies, depending on your cutters

1 cup salted butter (NOTE: you can use unsalted, but will then have to add about 1/2 -1 teaspoon of salt, to taste…which is sorta awesome as it gives you permission to sample cookie dough)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups of flour, plus more for rolling

Cream butter (obviously at room temperature) and then add brown sugar. Beat together butter and brown sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy.  This will take several minutes.   Then add the flour, mixing on low until just combined.

Divide the dough in two, form into a disk and wrap them in plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge for about thirty minutes or up to three days.  They can also be frozen for up to three months.

Preheat oven to 325’F, with rack in the lower middle position.  Line your baking sheets with parchment or a silpat style liner and set aside.

Bring out one of your dough disks dust it and your flat, rolling surface with flour.  Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch…or thinner if you prefer a more crispy cookie (I prefer thicker tbh).  Cut your cookies and put them onto your prepped cookie sheet.  I like to pop the cookie sheet into the fridge for 15-20 minutes (or about 10 in the freezer) to help the cookies keep their shape in the oven…but it’s not a necessary step, either.

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My lil’ friend B cutting cookies

Repeat the rolling in flour and cutting step.  Try to limit your re-rolls to about three as, after that, the additional flour and “working” or the dough will make for tougher cookies.

 

Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.  If you go thicker on the cookies, it will take longer to cook.  If you go thinner, it will take less time.  The key here is that golden colour.  After they are baked, let them sit on the sheet for about 5 minutes and then let them cool on a rack.  Store them air tight if you want them plain or decorate with your favourite icing and sprinkles.  Just make sure you let that icing dry before storing them in your airtight container.

*****

Martha Stewart’s Classic Shortbread

yields 8 wedges from a 10-inch tart pan

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (I found this to be a bit much for my preference I would cut it to a teaspoon or maybe 3/4 tsp).

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus a little bit more to prepare the pan

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Sift together flour and salt into a bowl.  Put butter into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium-light speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of bowl.  Gradually add confectioners’ sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture all at once; mix until just combined.

Preheat oven to 300’F, with rack in the upper third.

Using plastic wrap, press dough into a buttered 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.  With plastic on dough, refrigerate 20 minutes.  Remove plastic wrap.  Cut out a round from the centre using a 2 1/4 inch cookie cutter; discard (or eat…lol).  Put cutter back in centre.  Cut dough into eight wedges (I did 16) with a paring knife. Using a wooden skewer, prick all over at 1/4 inch intervals.

Bake until golden brown and firm in centre, about 1 hour.  Transfer pan to a wire rack.  Recut shortbread into wedges; let cool completely in pan.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to two weeks.

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