Is it me, or are the days just busier than ever?!! And longer?!! Sometimes the things that happened early in the day seem like they happened a week or even two weeks before, even though in reality they happened just hours ago. That's when you need ease and simplicity and a couple of these amazingly delicious, melt-in-your-mouth brown sugar shortbread to come home to at the end of one of those long days! Bang for the buck, these are one of the easiest cookies to make and you will definitely want to include them on your list for holiday baking--just giving you a little heads up!
When my oldest son was a little tyke, there was a certain bakery in our town that sold shortbread cookies and I made the terrible mistake of buying him one on a walk one day. Well, from then on, we couldn't pass that bakery without someone screaming for a "sortbed" cookie (and yes, sometimes, I'll admit that it was me--after all, they were wonderful!) But I can't say I blame him. Shortbread are so simple, so basic and so right-seeming. They're not loaded down with nuts or chips or candy pieces, they're just unadorned perfection!
And these are incredibly easy to make--you don't even need a mixer and it's likely that you'll have all the ingredients on hand in your fridge and pantry--just butter, brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract and flour--with a little turbinado or sanding sugar to sprinkle on top.
As mentioned, no electricity needed here--at least not for the mixing part--only some good muscle power.
Once everything is mixed together you grease a tart pan with a removable bottom and then press the mixture into it, finishing it off by sprinkling the whole thing with the coarse sugar.
While the shortbread bakes, your house will smell incredible, but luckily you don't have to wait too long--these cook up in about 20 minutes.
Then all you do is cut the shortbread into triangles (though I guess you could be uncivilized, leave it whole and chomp away!!)--
The shortbread bakes up golden brown, buttery and crisp, with an almost caramel-y flavor. They're addictive! Everyone I've tested these out on has come out with "fantastic", "amazing", "I love these" or at least that's what the hopeful me is saying--it's kind of hard to understand when their mouths are full of cookie!
Easy Brown Sugar Shortbread
Makes about 12 triangles
Prep Time: 10-12 minutes; Bake Time: 15-20 minutes
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing tart pan
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons turbinado or sanding sugar
1. Make sure rack is in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
2. Using a wooden spoon, stir the butter, brown sugar, salt and vanilla together in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Be patient--it takes a little muscle power but it will come together. Then mix in the flour until just combined.
3. Turn the dough out into the tart pan and press it into the bottom only--don't go up the sides. Make sure the dough is evenly spread. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the turbinado sugar and poke the dough in a few areas with a fork about 10 ten times.
4. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the dough is golden brown--be careful not to under bake or the cookies will not be crispy. As soon as you remove the pan from the oven, use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into 12 triangles. You can use a small sharp knife to cut through to the edges if the pizza cutter can't reach the sides.
5. Let the shortbread cool completely in the pan and then remove the sides and transfer the cookies to a plate or tin. Serve or store airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Note: Recipe adapted barely from One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti.