Shortbread: Versatile, Simple, and always Welcome

These littles cookies are a cinch to make, their ingredients are pantry staples, and their variations endless. They are delicious plain and yet are quickly fancied up. Below is a standard recipe, with a few different options underneath (lavender, chocolate, lemon ... you pick). Behold the humble shortbread.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

⅔ cup granulated sugar

2 sticks cold salted butter (if using unsalted, just add in 1/4 tsp. salt)


Steps:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Pulse together flour, sugar and salt, if using, in a food processor.

Add butter and pulse to fine crumbs.

Pulse a few more times until some of the crumbs start to come together when you pinch it, yet overall the dough will be rather crumbly.

Line an ungreased 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. This isn't technically required and may seem a little fiddly, yet it makes removing the bars effortless, and really only takes a few min.

Press dough into an even layer then prick dough all over with a fork.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes for the 9-inch square or pie pan, 45 to 50 minutes for the 8-inch. 

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.

Variations:

Lavender Shortbread: Add in 1/2-1 tsp dried lavender flowers, crush them a bit by rubbing them between your fingers before adding in.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread: Split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the back of a knife to scrape out the pulp. Pulse the pulp into the flour-sugar mixture before adding butter. Or add up to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with the butter.

Orange Shortbread: Add 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange (or lemon) zest with the flour. Add up to 1 teaspoon orange blossom water with the butter if desired. If you like the citrus poppyseed combo, you can add 2 tsp poppy seeds here.

Nut Shortbread: Grind 1/2 cup toasted nuts (pistachio are my favorite) in the food processor with the flour before combining with remaining ingredients. I love these then dipped in dark chocolate.

Spice or Seed Shortbread: Add up to 1 teaspoon spices, like ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or cardamom, or seeds like caraway or anise.

Buckwheat Shortbread: Substitute up to 1/3 cup buckwheat flour for 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour. Delicious with Early Grey tea.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread: Once cooled, dip into melted chocolate of choice and let dry/harden on a rack or tray lined with parchment paper.


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