Nothing says spring to me quite like a good shortbread cookie. When I was little my grandfather used to bring over what we called “butter cookies” in the blue tin. All basically the same cookie but in different shapes. I loved them. But once I made them from scratch, the blue tin became a distant but lovely memory. I admit – shortbread is my favorite cookie. The crunchy sugar and buttery morsels just melt in your mouth. And who doesn’t love a cookie shaped like a bunny? Happy Spring!
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature.
TIP-boil water in the microwave. Leave the butter in the microwave with the hot water. Butter will end up being very soft but not melted. I found this helps with the consistency of the dough.
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Colored Sugar crystals for decoration. I’ve used just the plain ones but they don’t have the pop of color I like.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into two separate flat disks. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
(I like to separate the dough and work in small batches because my pans are small and I can’t get on as many cookies as I’d like to. I also dump the dough on to plastic wrap and use the wrap to help form the dough into a ball.)
Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter.
TIP: I use plastic wrap to roll out the dough with so that it doesn’t get my counters or my rolling pin all messy. Place the dough between two separate sheets of plastic wrap and roll out with the rolling pin on top of the plastic wrap.
Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar crystals. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
(I have an insanely small oven. Most recipes call for cookies to bake at least 20 minutes but in mine, 10 minutes will do the trick. Watch them the first time you bake them so you know how long is best. Personally I do like the brown ones too!)