Shortbread, in its simplest form, is made from just four ingredients – butter, sugar, flour & vanilla extract. Originally from Scotland and a holiday favourite, these are buttery rich yet tender and crumbly. The base shortbread dough recipe can be modified to a lot of flavours and sizes and shapes, whatever catches your fancy!
The tangy and chewy dried cranberries and the crunchy toasted almonds give the right combination of flavour to this recipe. You can replace almonds with pistachios, or add some chocolate chips or Tutti frutti. You can also add a teaspoon of cinnamon, or even instant coffee powder for a coffee hit. You can also use whole-wheat pastry flour (lesser protein content than the normal whole-wheat flour, but not easily available in India).
I’ve made logs of the dough and then cut into thin rounds. You can also use cookie cutters for fancy shapes, or even just make small balls from the dough and flatten them in your palms and bake. I just can’t stop gushing about how versatile this recipe is!!
225g softened butter (1 cup)
75g granulated white sugar (about 1/3 cup)
50g honey (about 2½ tablespoons)
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g all-purpose flour ( 2 cups)
1/2 tsp salt
about 1 cup of flavour additions (I’ve used 1/2 cup dried cranberries + 1/2 cup almonds – toasted and chopped into large pieces)
1. Cream together butter and sugar. Add honey and vanilla extract and mix till well combined.
2. Sieve flour and salt into the wet ingredients and mix till well combined. Don’t overmix else cookies will get tough.
3. Stir in the cranberries and almonds. (or any other fillings you’re using)
4. Shape the dough into 2 logs, wrap in cling film/plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. This firms the dough so that they retain their shapes when baked. (check the baking hack at end of post**)
5. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
6. Cut into rounds or other shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter. Place them on the baking sheet. (If cutting the logs, make sure you have a sharp knife and you cut in one motion, do not use see-saw motion, the dough will crumble. If using cookie cutters, chill the shaped cookies for 15 minutes before baking)
7. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes. Edges will turn slightly brown and the centre will be soft to touch. Leave them on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before cooling on a wire rack. Once cooled completely, store in an air-tight container.
** Baking Hack for Chilled Cookies
When the log of dough is placed in the refrigerator, the bottom flattens a bit and when cut, doesn’t retain the round shape. Here’s an easy way to make a perfectly round cookie (well almost perfect) – use the cardboard centre that comes with a roll of tissue paper (Make sure it’s not the soft cardboard one). Slit it open with scissors, place your cling-wrapped log of cookie dough inside, and then chill!