Category Archives: Shortbread

Sparkling Shortbread

Sparkling ShortbreadHappy Christmas week! Happy Solstice! Happy almost the end of 2020!Sparkling ShortbreadI’m coming at you on this winter Monday to give you one last cookie recipe before Christmas. Don’t worry, it’s super easy—just a slice & bake shortbread that’s been rolled in sparkling sugar so it looks *fancy.* And it is. But it’s also stupendously easy. I don’t know about you, but when it’s four days before Christmas, I only have time for things that are stupendously easy.Sparkling ShortbreadThis dough is super rich and buttery, and comes together in 15 minutes. Once mixed, divide it in two and shape each half into a log. Don’t worry about perfect round shaping—you can fix flaws after an hour-long chill. It’s much easier to form smooth shapes when the dough isn’t so pliable.Sparkling ShortbreadSparkling Shortbread Next up, coat your shortbread in sparkling sugar! Working with one log at a time, give your shortbread a few rolls to even out any odd shaping. Then, roll them in a few tablespoons of festive sparkling sugar (this is the Mistletoe Blend from NY Cake Supply). I find it easiest to coat the shortbread by using my hands and a sheet of plastic wrap. Just do your best with this and don’t worry about perfection—these will all be a little different and they will all be gorgeous.

Don’t have sparkling sugar? Use sprinkles. I recommend using jimmies (the cylindrical kind) instead of non-pareils (the little balls), as those will bleed their colors.Sparkling ShortbreadAfter coating, the shortbread will need another hour chill. I know—I know!—two chills are too many, but they are easily the most annoying part of this recipe. One upside, however, is that this means you can make the Sparkling Shortbread dough days in advance and then slice & bake when you have time.Sparkling ShortbreadSparkling ShortbreadWhen it’s time to bake, slice the dough in 1/4-inch rounds and bake for 20 minutes at 300F, so they’re fully done but not brown. Despite not containing any leaveners, these cookies will puff and spread (but not too much).Sparkling ShortbreadOnce the shortbread are baked and cooled…well, that’s it! Time to eat. Sparkling Shortbread are crisp and buttery with a little extra crunch and zazz from their sugared edges. Truly, they’re so simple and stunning that I don’t know why you’d bother to make any other cookies this close to Christmas. Keep a few for yourself, drop a few off with a friend and leave a few for Santa. Everybody needs a little sparkle right now.Sparkling ShortbreadThere’s only one more E2 Bakes recipe left this year, and it’s coming up Wednesday! Any guesses???Sparkling Shortbread

Sparkling Shortbread
makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

For coating:
6-8 tablespoons (about 3 ounces) coarse sparkling/decorative sugar

Place softened butter in a medium-large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add dark brown and confectioners sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. With the mixer on low, beat in flour. Dough will be crumbly looking, but should hold together very well when pinched.

Divide dough in two parts. Form each into a 9-inch log and wrap in plastic. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly round. Chill for 1 hour.

Line a small sheet pan or a surface with a sheet of plastic wrap and place 3-4 tablespoons of sparkling sugar on top. Unwrap one log of dough. Give it a few light rolls to form more of a round log shape. Place dough on top of sugar and use your hands and the plastic wrap to coat the log in sparkling sugar. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days. Repeat this process with remaining log of dough and remaining sparkling sugar.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 300F. Line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.

Unwrap one log of dough and place on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice log into 1/4-inch rounds. Place at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans.

Bake cookies for 20-22 minutes, or until no longer shiny but not brown at all. Let cool on the pans for 10 minutes. Use a thin spatula (not your fingers!) to remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

Serve. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.Sparkling ShortbreadSparkling ShortbreadSparkling ShortbreadSparkling Shortbread

Pecan Sandies

Pecan SandiesWhen the folks at Fisher Nuts gifted me a bag of their delicious pecan halves a few weeks ago, the first recipe that came to mind was Pecan Sandies.Pecan SandiesThere was a package of storebought Pecan Sandies in our pantry for my entire childhood, but I never cared for them. In fact, the kindest thing I can think to say about them is that they were inoffensive. These shortbread were too hard, flavorless at best, and seriously lacking in pecans for something with the word “pecan” in their name…but they’d do if there were no other desserts available.Pecan SandiesI remember going into the pantry to grab a snack and eyeing that package of cookies—who in their right mind would buy those over and over again?!

My dad. That’s who. I can’t tell you when or why he started eating Pecan Sandies, but I can’t see the packaging without thinking of him.Happy Father’s DayMy dad’s a great guy. He’s sweet, he’s smart. He looks great in a hat. He took us to a gazillion baseball games, danced with me in six of my dance recitals (once in tights), and tried to teach me to golf for years in hopes that I’d ever be good enough to play with him (I’m not). He’s the kind of guy who uses pecan halves to write your name on brownies on your 35th birthday and then sends you a video of your family singing “Happy Birthday to You” and blowing out candles in your honor, even though you are halfway across the country and unable to travel due to a pandemic.

Y’all, my dad deserves better Pecan Sandies.Pecan SandiesLucky for him, they’re easy to make and far superior to anything on store shelves. We’re talking thick, rich, buttery shortbread loaded with chopped toasted pecans. They’re crunchy with ever-so-slightly soft centers and a sort of smooth meltaway quality (sandiness?) from the addition of confectioner’s sugar. That’s a long way of saying that they’re very good.Pecan SandiesThe dough is a seven ingredient slice-and-bake situation loaded with real butter and toasted chopped pecans. It comes together quickly, but does require a two hour chill, so plan ahead. Once it’s nice and cold though, you’re just twenty minutes away from the best dang Pecan Sandies you’ve ever had.Pecan SandiesPecan SandiesThe recipe makes three dozen and they keep like a dream for days on end. If you’re a better daughter (or son or child) than I am, these would be perfect for sending to your dad on Father’s Day. Unfortunately for my dad, I’m terrible with anything involving the post office, so he’s getting something I can order online that will not make it on time. Ah, well.Pecan SandiesHappy Father’s Day to everyone celebrating, especially my sweet dad. He loves all his daughters, but I think the dog is his favorite. Pecan Sandies

Pecan Sandies
makes 36 cookies

1 cup raw pecan halves
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300F. Place pecans on a cutting board and use a large, sharp chef’s knife to chop them finely. Place them on a dry rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Let cool completely.

Place softened butter in a medium-large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add granulated and confectioner’s sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. With the mixer on low, beat in flour. Dough will be crumbly looking, but should hold together very well when pinched. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in chopped pecans.

Divide dough in half. Take one half and lay it on a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap and clean hands, form the dough into a log (roughly 8 1/2 x 1 1/2-inches) and wrap tightly. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 325F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove one log of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the dough into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place them 1 1/2-2 inches apart on prepared pans. Refrigerate any leftover dough between batches.

Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the halfway point. Let cool on the pans for 10 minutes before using a thin spatula (not your fingers!) to remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking processes with any remaining dough. Serve.

Shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.Pecan SandiesPecan SandiesPecan Sandies

Coconut Lime Squares

Coconut Lime SquaresI started fiddling with this recipe pre-social distancing, and have gotten close to posting it twice, but then hesitated at the last second both times. The first attempt was just golden toasted coconut on shortbread. Tasty, but also a little dry. The second involved a can of sweetened condensed milk drizzled over the top before baking. The consistency was right, but the results were a little one note—they needed acid.Coconut Lime SquaresThis, the third and final go-round, has the zest and juice of two limes,* an egg yolk and a little salt stirred into that sweetened condensed milk, so that it bakes up reminiscent of Key Lime Pie filling. Yum!

*Yes, you can use lemons. Then they’ll be Coconut Lemon Squares.Coconut Lime SquaresFor those of you concerned about using only an egg yolk in a recipe right now (no food waste allowed in a pandemic!), you’ll be relieved to know that the white gets used in the coconut layer. It’s whisked together with sugar, salt and vanilla, and then used to coat a bunch of flaked coconut before baking.Coconut Lime SquaresI used large-flake unsweetened coconut because that’s what I had on hand, but feel free to swap in a finer flake/shred style. If you’re using sweetened coconut, cut the added sugar in the topping to 1-2 tablespoons. I wouldn’t leave it out completely, as you want it to get really good and toasty and for the coconut below to be vaguely…marshmallowy? Sounds weird, yes, but that’s the word to describe its flavor, if not its texture. Trust me, it’s like a big macaroon and you’re going to love it.Coconut Lime SquaresAs for the crust, it’s just shortbread: flour, sugar, salt, cold butter. It’s crunchy, flaky and buttery—the perfect vehicle for the lime filling and coconut topping. I understand that a lot of people cannot get their hands on flour right now, so please note that you can use a graham cracker, Oreo (or Golden Oreo), or another crumb crust and it will work just fine. It may even be better…maybe I should have done a round four? Should I have bailed on posting at the last second again?

Oh lord. Somebody social distance me from myself.Coconut Lime Squares

Coconut Lime Squares
makes 1 8- or 9-inch pan, about 16 servings

Shortbread Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold

Lime Filling:
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
zest of 2 medium limes
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 medium limes)
1 large egg yolk
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Toasted Coconut Topping:
1 large egg white, room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flaked unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil. Grease. Set aside.

Make the shortbread crust. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched.

Pour shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using the flat bottom of a measuring cup (or the heel of your hand) to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Bake 10 minutes to set. Wipe out bowl (no need to wash) and set aside for coconut topping.

Make the lime filling. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, lime zest & juice, egg yolk, and salt. It may thicken slightly. Set aside.

Make the toasted coconut topping. In a medium mixing bowl (I use the same one I used for the crust), use a fork to whisk together egg white, sugar and vanilla, just until bubbly/a little foamy, about 1 minute. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in coconut.

Spoon lime filling over shortbread crust. Use a silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to carefully spread into an even layer. Scatter coconut filling over the lime filling, making sure to get it all the way to the edges. Press down lightly.

Bake 30-35 minutes, or until coconut is deeply toasted on top and center barely jiggles when pan is jostled. If coconut begins to burn during baking, tent with foil.

Let pan cool completely in a pan on a rack. Use foil overhang to transfer to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into squares, wiping clean between cuts as necessary. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Squares will keep covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4.Coconut Lime SquaresCoconut Lime SquaresCoconut Lime Squares

Pretzel Shortbread

Pretzel ShortbreadFor the third year in a row, my first Christmas cookies of the season are being posted as part of the Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange, in which food bloggers post festive goodies and donate money in support of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We believe in their mission to raise funds for pediatric cancer treatments and research through bake sales and cookie swaps. Many supporters (“Good Cookies”) do this throughout the year, and I always look forward to supporting them by participating in the Sweetest Season. Making cookies is my favorite thing in the world to do, and the fact that it might help someone this week makes it even better. I made my donation on Giving Tuesday, but if you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here.Pretzel ShortbreadLet’s talk about Pretzel Shortbread. Salty, sweet, crisp, pretzely (inside & out!) cookies, with or without a drizzle of dark chocolate. Oh my lord, y’all. These are absurdly good.Pretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadToday’s cookies are inspired by Philadelphia-favorite Lost Bread Co.’s Pretzel Shortbread. I first saw them when my friend, Claire, who co-owns Philly’s Root Market, posted about how quickly they were selling out. After that, I went down an internet rabbit hole and found out that they are made out of ground up stale soft pretzels, then brushed with lye before baking for maximum pretzelization.*

*I’m twisting the word “pretzel” a lot today and I will not apologize.Pretzel ShortbreadInstead of being a normal person and ordering from Lost Bread Co. online, I decided to figure out a version for the home baker…but without the lye because who keeps food-grade lye around?Pretzel ShortbreadTaking a cue from Lost Bread Co., my Pretzel Shortbread dough is made with a mix of flour and ground pretzels, and sweetened with dark brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar for both flavor and texture. The rest of the ingredients are butter, vanilla, and salt. It’s all mixed together in the span of a few minutes, then rolled and cut into shapes. I went with stars because that’s what I like.Pretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadNext up: the pretzeling! After the cookies are rolled and cut (and also briefly frozen a couple of times), they are dipped in a warm mix of water and baking soda, or as I call it, “pretzel wash.” This is simply a small batch of the solution traditional soft pretzels are boiled in to achieve their signature golden finish. It’s literally just water and baking soda (no lye!), but it’s the thing that takes these cookies over the top!Pretzel ShortbreadInstead of tossing the shortbread in boiling liquid, which would probably destroy them instantly, I let the pretzel wash cool until I can touch it, and then dip the frozen cookie dough stars into the mix. This is followed up by a swipe of egg wash and sprinkles of coarse salt and sugar before being baked to a brown, burnished, decidedly pretzelesque* finish.

*“Pretzelesque” is my new favorite made-up word.Pretzel ShortbreadFinish the Pretzel Shortbread off with a drizzle of chocolate, or not. I did a little of each—I like to have options.Pretzel ShortbreadSalty, sweet, pretzeled inside-and-out, chocolaty, Christmasy, delicious options.Pretzel Shortbread

Pretzel Shortbread
makes about 3.5 dozen cookies

Pretzel Wash:
2 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda

Shortbread Dough:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups ground pretzels (about 1 1/2 cups whole mini pretzels)

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Garnish:
coarse salt
coarse sugar (optional)

Chocolate Drizzle:
3 ounces pure dark chocolate, chopped
coarse salt, for garnish (optional)
coarse sugar, for garnish (optional)

Read this recipe in its entirety before beginning.

Make the pretzel wash. Pour water into a 3-4 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Wearing an oven mitt (or other protective hand gear), whisk in baking soda. Mixture will bubble and expand violently. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Place softened butter in a medium-large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add dark brown and confectioners sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. With the mixer on low, beat in flour and ground pretzels. Dough will be crumbly looking, but should hold together very well when pinched. Divide dough in two parts.

Working with one half at a time, sandwich dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll until 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to the freezer (on a baking sheet, if desired) for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. It is okay to stack the sheets of dough in the freezer.

While the dough is freezing, place racks in the center positions. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer. Peel on of the pieces of parchment off. Use a lightly floured 2-inch cookie cutter to cut cookies. Place them close together on prepared pans. Freeze for 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough sheet. Scraps can be re-rolled, frozen, and cut.

Dip cookies in pretzel wash. Remove frozen cut cookie dough from freezer. Wearing a latex glove (highly recommended), dip cookies into pretzel wash and place back on baking sheets. Freeze again for 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining cut cooking dough.

Make egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl, and use a fork to whisk until combined. Brush egg wash over the tops of the cookies, then sprinkling with coarse salt & coarse sugar.

Bake cookies for 23-25 minutes, or until burnished and brown. Let cool on the pans for 7 minutes. Use a thin spatula (not your fingers!) to remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

Line two baking sheets (or a large surface) with parchment. Place cooling racks over the top. Arrange cookies on racks.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave (30 second increments, stirring in between). Use a fork to drizzle chocolate over cookies. Scatter coarse salt & coarse sugar over the tops, if desired. Repeat with remaining cookies. Chocolate will set after a couple of hours at room temperature, or a few minutes in the freezer.

Shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.Pretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadPretzel Shortbread

Candy Corn Shortbread

Candy Corn ShortbreadI don’t like Halloween. There, I said it. I was ambivalent toward it as a kid and I straight-up don’t like it now.

There is a very slight chance I will be in a costume this weekend, but this will depend entirely on the state of the World Series (go Sox!), how social I am feeling, and my willingness to trade my pajamas for a costume. But I’m a childless, baseball-loving introvert who doesn’t drink and loves pajamas, so you do the math.Candy Corn ShortbreadOne Halloween-ish thing that I do love? Candy corn. For proof, see here and here. Contoversial opinion, I know, but give me allllllll the overly-sweet, chewy, “made with real honey” candy corn there is! Also, mallow pumpkins. Please.Candy Corn ShortbreadI know not everyone feels the way I do, but I think we can all get behind easy, festive, made-from-scratch treats. Exhibit A: Candy Corn Shortbread! How cute are these cookies, y’all?!Candy Corn ShortbreadThis recipe is made from very straightforward six-ingredient dough—literally just a vanilla shortbread with a little honey to reflect its “made with real honey” candy corn inspiration. After mixing (which takes all of five minutes) it’s divided into three sections, like so.Candy Corn ShortbreadThe smallest is set aside, while the medium piece is dyed yellow and the largest is dyed orange. I like to use gel food coloring here, but did have success testing with liquid.Candy Corn ShortbreadAfter the dough colors are to your liking, it’s time to assemble it all so that it can be sliced later. This process is really very simple: just shape the yellow portion into a rectangle…Candy Corn ShortbreadCandy Corn ShortbreadCandy Corn Shortbreadstack the orange on there…Candy Corn ShortbreadCandy Corn Shortbreadand top it with the white dough. Use your hands to press it into a triangle shape before chilling for a few hours.Candy Corn ShortbreadThen it’s just slicing and baking.Candy Corn ShortbreadOh, and fawning over how adorable these cookies are. That’s a big part of this process. Don’t forget to text pictures of them to everyone you know 🙂Candy Corn ShortbreadI love how these cookies are imperfect, but are absolutely still recognizable. I’m sure you have better motor skills than I do–maybe you could mold yours to look taller and narrower like the real deal. I like to think mine look authentic because they look a little busted, just like the candy corn I bought last week. Let’s not discuss how long it took to dig through the bag and find all these whole pieces. Anyway…Candy Corn ShortbreadCandy Corn Shortbread are as delicious as they are festive! When they are fresh, they have crisp edges and slightly chewy centers. They’ll soften a bit over time, but they’ll remain sweet, buttery, and totally delectable.Candy Corn ShortbreadI think these could turn even the most Halloween-averse among us. Who knows–maybe I’ll wear a costume after all.Candy Corn Shortbread

Candy Corn Shortbread
makes about 5 dozen

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons mild honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
red, yellow, and/or orange food coloring (preferably gel)*

In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in honey and vanilla, followed by flour and salt.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle. Slice in half. Set one half aside. Slice remaining half into one 2/3 portion and one 1/3 portion (see post for a photo).

Set the smallest piece aside; this is for the white tip of the candy corn. Knead yellow food coloring into the medium-sized piece of dough (I used about 1/8 teaspoon yellow gel). Knead orange gel into the largest piece (I used about 1/4 teaspoon orange gel).

Assemble the dough. Line a small baking sheet or cutting board with parchment. Shape yellow dough into a 10x3x1/2-inch rectangle. Place onto the parchment.

Top it with the orange dough I find this easiest to do by dividing the orange dough in half and arranging the two pieces in a straight line over the top of the yellow layer. Use your hands to start shaping the dough so it’s wider at the bottom and narrower at the top, with a flat top instead of a peak.

Top with the white dough. I find this easiest to do by slicing the white dough into four long, thin pieces. Arrange them end-to-end in a straight line on top of the orange layer and then use your hands to mold them together into one long piece. Use your hands to shape the dough so that it’s wide at the bottom and narrow at the peak. The log of dough may lengthen as much as two inches during this process. Cover very loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 300F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator. Slice into 1/4-inch slices, placing them at least 2-inches apart on prepared pans. If dough gets too warm, freeze full pans for 5 minutes before baking. Chill dough between batches.

Bake cookies for 8 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake an additional 7-8 minutes, until no longer wet looking. Shortbread should not turn golden. Let cool on the pans for 7 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking processes with remaining dough. Let pans return to room temperature between batches.

Candy Corn Shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week. They will soften slightly over time.

Note:

I used Americolor Soft Gel Paste Food Color in Egg Yellow and Orange.

Candy Corn Shortbread Candy Corn ShortbreadCandy Corn Shortbread