Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Cookies: Brown Sugar Shortbread

Okay, there's no picture for this, because I suck. You see, I made these for a Christmas party, and there was tequila, and well, yeah. No pictures.

This has to be one of my favorite recipes now, though. I love it first because nearly everything you need is already in the pantry. You don't have to make a special trip to the store or buy fancy spices. I also love it because it's pretty much a snap to make. Except for the scoring, there's nothing complicated about this recipe at all.

And the taste! These aren't "true" shortbreads, but the rich, cinnamon-brown sugar taste will make up for any lack of shortbread purity. They are soft and chewy at first, and even once they cool and crisp up, they're still rather toothsome.

Altogether, just an awesome cookie, and I recommend trying it this holiday season.

One note: the original recipe recommended cutting these into 12 wedges. I found those cookies a little too big (it's actually a very rich and buttery cookie), so I recommend cutting 16 wedges. I also find it's easier to score and cut that way.

Brown Sugar Shortbread

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325. Lightly spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and set it on a baking sheet.

In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium until light and pale yellow, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add brown sugar and mix on medium until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add flour and salt and mix on low until just incorporated. Empty mixture into prepared pan, and use your hand or the bottom of a ramekin or measuring cup to press it evenly into the pan.

Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle evenly over the surface of the shortbread. Using a sharp knife, score the shortbread into 16 even wedges.

Bake until shortbread is golden brown and firm at the edges, but slightly soft in the center, around 55-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, remove springform sides, and cool for 10 minutes. Slide shortbread onto cutting board and recut wedges along existing lines.

Cool completely before serving, about 3 hours. Shortbread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Important: Do not skip the scoring, or wait until the shortbreads cool before trying to cut them. It will be impossible. Cut them immediately once they're baked. Also, don't try and bake these in a regular cake pan; they will be very difficult to get out.

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