I love shortbread. Have you noticed? I’ve only been blogging regularly for five weeks and have already posted a chocolate chip version and a vanilla-almond version. What can I say? I love butter. So, here’s a third shortbread recipe. Now, before you go thinking that I’m a one-trick baker, you should know that this recipe is different. It’s special. Where the other two recipes are thin and crisp, this shortbread is whipped to high heaven and then baked in a low oven until it is just barely baked through. The cookies won’t turn golden–they’ll just be puffy and airy and buttery and magical. Then they’re coated in confectioner’s sugar, which makes their texture even silkier, and has the added benefit of making them look like little snowballs! I hate this term, but these are the kind of cookies that melt in your mouth. They’ll be absolutely divine on a holiday cookie tray. This recipe is anything but complicated, but it does require some precision in the mixing. Let two sticks of butter soften to room temperature. You want them just soft enough to give a little when pressed with a clean finger. Don’t let them get melty at all. Our apartment stays cold in the fall and winter no matter how high we turn the heat, so here’s what I do. I cut the butter into 1/2 inch pats, set them on a plate, and then let them sit for 45 minutes to an hour. Perfectly softened butter every time. Once the butter is soft, place it in a large bowl and beat it with an electric mixer for two solid minutes. Then, add in 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar, and beat again until it is completely combined. Do not use granulated sugar here–the cornstarch in the confectioner’s sugar is required if you want a smooth texture. And trust me, you want that texture. Add in a touch of vanilla extract, and beat it again. Now, make sure you have everything you need for the next seven-or-so minutes because you’re in it for the long haul. Beat in the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. And then, keep beating. Beat some more. Beat even more than that. Once the flour is incorporated, you need to beat the dough for six minutes, and no less. This is what makes this shortbread “whipped.” We want this dough to be lighter than air. So, even if it looks like a cloud in a bowl at four minutes, keep going to six. As shortbread has no leavening (hence why it’s “short”), we need all the air we can get into the dough so that our final cookies are domed and gorgeous. The dough, whipped for six full minutes, will look and feel like the fluffiest frosting ever.
Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the dough onto parchment-lined sheet pans. Bake them at 275F for 28-32 minutes. Yes, that seems like eternity for cookies, but we aren’t so much baking these cookies as we are drying them out. Once they are just baked through, let them cool on the pans and then on a rack. I like to coat these in confectioner’s sugar because it makes them look like snowballs! Be extremely gentle as whipped shortbread are very delicate.
This recipe is an excellent base for many holiday cookies, and you will definitely see it again before the Twelve Days of Cookies are over. Whipped Shortbread Snowballs will be a welcome presence at any cookie exchange or holiday party, and would make a delightful holiday gift. De-light-ful. See what I did there?
Anyway… Put Whipped Shortbread Snowballs on your shortlist for holiday baking. “Short” list! Get it?
Whatever. I think I’m funny.
Need more holiday cookie recipes? Check out my Eggnog Sandwich Cookies and Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles, and come back for nine more cookie recipes before December 25th! Whipped Shortbread Snowballs
barely adapted from Whipped Shortbread by The Kitchen Magpie
makes about three dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2-2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Preheat the oven to 275F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.
Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, cream the butter for two minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in confectioner’s sugar and salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla. Add in flour in two installments. Continue beating dough for 6 minutes, until extremely light and fluffy.
Using a small cookie scoop, place dough onto prepared pans, leaving 2 inches between dough balls. Bake for 28-32 minutes until cookies are baked, but not golden brown at all. Let cool on the pans for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. You may serve these plain, or coat them.
To coat the shortbread, place 1 1/2-2 cups of confectioner’s sugar in a bowl. Gently coat each cookie in the confectioner’s sugar to coat completely before placing them back on the rack.
Whipped Shortbread Snowballs will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week. The coating may sink into the cookies, but that is easily remedied by coating them again. Enjoy!