The original recipe (called Shortbread Stars) came from my McCall's recipe box collection, which I subscribed to in the 80's. It was the first shortbread recipe I ever made, and I've never found a better one. The ingredients are so basic and easy that you'll soon have them memorized. Other recipes don't seem to produce the same perfect texture and flavor. My modification to the original was to try using a 9 x 13 pan rather than chilling, rolling out, and cutting into shapes. (Who has time for that, except on special occasions?) However, using a 9 x 13 pan changes the baking time, and the time given is approximate and based on my experience with a convection oven. I tend to overbake them a bit because I like shortbread very crisp. These are perfect with a cup of tea, of course, and ideal for tea parties or even a quick dessert for company. You nearly always have the ingredients on hand. Now you'll never need to buy (delicious but expensive) Walker's shortbread again!
- Preheat oven to 300°.
- Cream butter and sugar together.
- Add flour and mix till texture is like clay.
- Press dough into ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan, prick all over with a fork, and sprinkle with sugar (tilt pan to cover the top evenly, then shake excess sugar back into the sugar canister).
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes (till very lightly browned--just golden around the edges).
- Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut into 24 squares while warm.
- Leave in pan to cool thoroughly. (Shortbread will not be crisp until cool.).
- Less easy method: Chill dough. Roll into 1-inch balls, then press balls to about 1/4-inch thickness on ungreased cookie sheets with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar (sometimes you can find a glass with a pretty design on the bottom, like a star). Bake at 300° for about 20-25 minutes (until edges are very lightly browned).
- Least easy method: Chill dough. Roll out to about 1/4-inch thickness, sprinkle with sugar, then cut with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 300° for about 20-25 minutes (until edges are very lightly browned).
- Variation: Add 2 tablespoons dried lavender to the creamed butter and sugar before adding flour. It may sound strange, but the flavor is subtle and elegant. Food-grade lavender is usually available in herb bins at health food stores, and I recently found it at a great price from Atlantic Spice online (their Lavender #1).
- Variation: After cutting shortbread into squares (it will still be warm), scatter 1 cup of chocolate chips over the top, let the chocolate soften completely, then spread as a thin layer and let cool completely before removing from pan. (No need to sprinkle shortbread with sugar before baking if you plan to do this.).
- Variation: Stir 1 cup chocolate chips or butterscotch chips into the dough before pressing into pan. You can also try melting the butterscotch over the top, as above. In England, you'll find "caramel shortbread," which has a layer of caramel and a layer of chocolate on top of the shortbread. It's wonderful (of course!). I've tried various ways of doing this and various kinds of caramel, but it's been a while and I don't remember what works best. It can be tricky not to make a mess!
This recipe is DELICIOUS! I used the roll and press with a glass method, pricked each of the cookies three times with a fork, and they turned out perfect. The only thing I changed to the ingredients was the fact that I added about a teaspoon of Nielsen Massey Madagascar bourbon vanilla to the dough after creaming the butter and sugar. I also let the pressed cookies sit in the freezer for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet prior to baking, in hopes that I'd get more flake/rise out of the cold butter. Awesome recipe!
Great, easy recipe! I added a little almond flavoring to mine and used chocolate chips as suggested. Easy to cut, take out of pan, and they did not fall apart!
Easy, tasty, excellent recipe. The only change I made was to add some orange grind for a hint of orange taste.