Post-Holiday Browns

We’re not blue after the holiday we’re brown. As in brown butter! That nutty, toasted aroma imparts a fabulous twist on the already classic shortbread.

Shortbread

I was a little hesitant to try this recipe from Smitten Kitchen but they just sounded so delicious. A lot of comments had been made about how the recipe (Brown Butter Shorties) wasn’t turning out as described and my neighbor, who is a great home chef, also had problems.

Fortunately for me, it all worked. I’m not a brown butter expert and I may have browned mine just a bit too long, but the flavor of the cookie is really rich – full of caramel overtones. And even better, it was quite easy. A slice and bake cookie. I only wished it had yielded more! My batch made a coveted twenty cookies! Definitely a recipe to keep and put into the cookie rotation! Enjoy!

BROWN BUTTER BROWN SUGAR SHORTIES from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Gourmet

Makes about 32 cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (preferably dark)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (flaky salt would be great in these)
Demerara sugar (Sugar in the Raw) or sanding sugar for rolling (optional)

Cut butter into four or five pieces and cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it has a nutty fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn a light brown, anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes. It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Transfer butter to a bowl and chill until just firm, about 1 hour.

Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then mix in flour and salt at low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper or parchment and form into a 12-inch log, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Unwrap dough and roll it in coarse sugar, if using, and press the granules in with the paper you’d be using to wrap it. Slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, arranging 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until surface is dry and edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes. Let sit on sheet for a minute before transferring to a rack to cool. (Cookies will quite fragile at first, but will firm up as they cool.)

Dough keeps, chilled, up to 1 week, or in the freezer, up to one month. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

NOTE: if you can, read the comments on the Smitten Kitchen blog on this cookie. There are a lot of helpful hints from other bakers.

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