When I was a kid my mom had some sort of party (Tupperware?) at the house. We kids had to stay in our room, but our dad sneaked back bars of shortbread for us. No shortbread has ever tasted as good as those clandestine cookies, but that doesn't keep me from trying every once in a while. I usually use the basic Scotch Shortbread recipe from The Joy of Cooking, so here it is with some variations garnered from Chocolate and Zucchini.
- 1 cup/227 grams salted butter, somewhat softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 cups flour, or substitute 1/4 cup with cornmeal or rice flour
- pinch of salt (if needed)
- insides of a vanilla bean, or zest from a Meyer lemon (optional)
- mixing bowl
- big spoon
- 9x9 baking pan or near equivalent
2. Cream the sugar and butter with the whisk or a fork.
3. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients. Unless it's hot the dough should be somewhat crumbly and stiff. If not add a little extra flour.
4. Press the dough into the pan and prick it with the fork every half inch or so.
5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden.
6. Cut into bars or wedges immediately upon removing from the oven. Cool completely before removing from the pan.
Options: Chocolate chips or nuts, pecans especially, are nice with short bread. You can mix them into the dough, or press them into the dough after you prick it with a fork. That's my preference. You can also sprinkle crystal or turbinado sugar over the top before baking. These make a great breakfast with hot chocolate or tea, if you plan on having a sluggish morning.
More options (added 27 April 2008): I'm experimenting with lavender sugar, which I intend to add to this recipe if it works out. However, a pinch of lavender added to the butter and sugar while they're mixing mixing makes for a lightly lavender flavored shortbread, which is just delicious.