is quick to make and travels well, making it ideal for
desserts are simpler desserts.
keeps us from puffy meringues, and heat denies any flourless
chocolate goo-fests or sweets best kept chilled until
served. There are fewer frostings and drizzles and fuss.
often gets center stage, especially when foods need to
withstand a certain amount of jostling until the blanket is
even fruit needs a cookie. But not the usual run of
crinkle-doodle-snapper-chipper-roos that gets us through the
is for shortbread.
recipe is simplicity itself: flour, sugar and butter in the
right proportions. Which means, to be honest, butter, flour
"short" means that the amount of flour seems scant
compared with most cookies. You want just enough to hold the
should the flour bring any muscle to the beach party.
Shortbread calls for basic all-purpose, and even some of
that is replaced with even finer rice flour for the most
delicate texture possible. (Save the whole wheat for the
dough is barely dough, as well. Small chunks of butter are
beaten with the flour and sugar until the mixture looks like
fine meal. Pinch it, and it will hold together, but you don’t
want to mix until it becomes a cohesive dough.
it into a pan with the back of a spoon or a flat-bottomed
glass. Too much handling will soften the butter and make the
shortbread more firm and less tender.
indebted to "Baking Illustrated," from the editors
of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, for several tips that we
found spot-on for success.
them: Cut a small round from the center of the pan of dough.
This ensures that the shortbread bakes through before the
outer edges become overbaked and dry. We used a 1 1/2-inch
cookie cutter, but you could also cut out a round with a
nugget, baked on a folded piece of aluminum foil for half
the usual time, becomes the baker’s treat.)
is distinctive for scored lines meant to ease the final
cutting into pieces. The Cook’s Illustrated folks found
that this is better done after 20 minutes of baking.
the pan from the oven, then gently press lines into the
now-softer dough, poking a few decorative holes with a
skewer if desired, then continue baking.
in later cutting the shortbread pieces into smaller
servings, we found that each fantail could easily be halved
with steady downward pressure of a large knife, without the
benefit of any scoring lines. So, your call.
your call: Go with the classic butter-forward recipe, or try
some of our variations. We added cocoa, espresso powder and
cayenne pepper to a batch, orange zest and chopped
pistachios to another, and swapped in brown sugar for white
sugar in yet another, topping that with a bit of coarse
Hawaiian salt. Delish.
selling points: Tender shortbread is surprisingly
transportable, and its texture actually improves with a day’s
"ripening," making it an ideal make-ahead treat,
keeping summer even simpler.
Rice flour is in the baking aisle. Bob’s Red Mill is a
popular brand. From "Baking Illustrated."
cup all-purpose flour
cup rice flour (or use cornstarch)
cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
oven to 425 degrees. Move an oven rack to the middle
a circle of parchment paper in a 9-inch tart pan with
removable bottom, or in a round cake pan.
bowl of an electric mixer, blend the flours, 2/3 cup sugar
the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add to the flour mixture.
Mix at low speed for several minutes until the mixture
resembles damp crumbs. Do not overmix.
half the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth into an even
layer, then firmly press with a juice glass or back of a
spoon. Add the rest of the mixture and repeat, pressing
using a cake pan, place a baking sheet on top of the pan,
then invert. Tap the bottom of the pan until the dough
releases, then carefully lift off pan and remove parchment.
If the dough cracks a bit, press back together. (If it
crumbles a lot, repeat the whole process; for this reason, a
tart pan is preferred.)
1 1/2-inch cookie cutter or a sharp knife, cut a circle of
dough from the center. Place this nugget on a folded piece
of aluminum foil to bake for 20 minutes. Replace cookie
cutter in the hole to hold its shape and help conduct heat.
(Or use a small ball of crumpled aluminum foil.)
pan in the oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake for 20
pan (and tiny cookie) and, using the edge of a spatula,
gently score the surface into 16 wedges. If desired, pierce
a decorative pattern with a skewer.
pan to oven (eat the cookie) and bake an additional 40
surface of hot shortbread with remaining 1 teaspoon of
sugar, then cool on a wire rack for an hour. Remove from
tart pan and cool thoroughly, about 2 more hours.
into wedges with a large knife along scored lines using
steady downward pressure. Well-wrapped shortbread can be
stored at room temperature for up for one week.
Decrease all-purpose flour to 1 1/2 cups, and substitute
cocoa for the remaining 1/4 cup. Add rice flour, sugar and
salt, along with 1 teaspoon espresso powder and 1 teaspoon
cayenne pepper. Proceed with the recipe, omitting sprinkle
To the flour mixture, add the grated zest of 1 orange and
1/2 cup fine-chopped pistachios. Proceed with the recipe.
Substitute brown sugar for the white sugar. Proceed with the
recipe. After pressing into the pan, sprinkle with about 1/2
teaspoon coarse salt. (We used pink Hawaiian.) Omit final
sprinkle of sugar.
information per serving: 194 calories, 12 g fat, 2 mg
sodium, 21 g carbohydrates, 7 g saturated fat, 6 mg calcium,
2 g protein, 31 mg cholesterol, 0 g dietary fiber
exchanges per serving: 1 1/2 other carb, 2 1/2 fat.