I am a major coffee fan, but there are some foods that demand a right cup of tea rather than my usual cup of Joe. Shortbread is definitely one of those foods. It’s such a slightly sweet, slightly crisp, delicate as all get-out kind of cookie, it just seems wrong to overshadow its subtle flavor with my regular Starbucks brew (which, when brewed by Jared, comes close to Hulk-like strength). Thanks to this recipe from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, I’m one step closer to becoming a tea convert. ‘Tis blasphemy, I know.
Shortbread recipes are simple by default, though the brown sugar in this cookie adds a richer, more caramely flavor than you’ll find in more traditional recipes. A simple switch, yes, but it makes all the difference.
Brown Sugar Shortbread
From The Essential New York Times Cookbook (Amanda Hesser, p. 690)
• ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
• 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• ½ cup toasted unblanched almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)
In a mixer fitted with a paddle or in a bowl with a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt, and blend by hand until the dough is kneadable. If using almonds, knead the nuts into the dough. Gather the dough into 2 balls, wrap in wax paper, and chill thoroughly. [Note: I made this dough around 11 p.m., so I stuck it in the refrigerator to chill overnight. The next morning, it was so crazy solid, I had to set it out on the counter for a good 30 minutes until it was soft enough to roll out. So overnight chilling works, but an hour or two would probably be ideal.]
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. On a lightly floured board, roll out both halves of dough into neat 8-inch circles, about 1/3 inch thick or slightly less. Place the circles on a buttered baking sheet, and deeply score each into 8 wedges. Prick the wedges decoratively with a fork.
Bake until lightly browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let the shortbread cool on the sheets. Cut into wedges, and enjoy!
What’s your favorite simple cookie recipe? Do you have a shortbread recipe you make at home or a favorite café or bakery where you buy them in town? Any nontraditional spins you take with the basic ingredients? And in other news, who’s watching the Oscars this weekend? What’s on the menu?