Christmas Eve is 10 days away. We've only got 11 'til Christmas. There are 17 more sunrises and sunsets before the resolutions kick in and we set aside the cookies for kale and the loungewear for gym clothes. I say we live it UP! All of the cookies, cakes, and chocolate we can take for the next few weeks before austerity (or reality, if you prefer) kicks in.
Shortbread is my idea of cookie perfection. It's simple and timeless, not overly sweet yet still decadent, and can be appreciated any season, event, or holiday. They can be perfect whether they come from the kitchen of a novice or a professional. They're classy and appealing without being pretentious or stuffy.
The brown sugar in these add another layer of flavor, while the sprinkling of turbinado sugar on the top give a subtle bit of crunch to the soft crumble of the texture.
Shortbread has to be poked, or it will bubble up and become uneven during baking. This is the fun part! I used a (clean, of course) drinking straw in the center, then the flat end of a toothpick for the smaller holes. You could also employ a fork or any other thing that will poke small, even holes for heat to escape and keep your cookies flat and even.
These are best with a cup of something hot and comforting to drink, and a friend to share them with. But that makes everything better, doesn't it?
Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies
- 8 Tbsp. soft unsalted butter (I recommend a high-quality brand)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- Turbinado, or any other large-grain sugar, for sprinkling
In a large mixing bowl (you can also use a stand mixer if you're doubling it), cream butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Combine the flour and salt and slowly beat into the butter and sugar. It may look crumbly and dry at first, but if you keep mixing it will eventually form a smooth dough. Dough can be used immediately, or left in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you a going to chill it, be sure to allow time for it to soften before it is baked.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until it's approximately 1/4" thick. At this point, you can cut out shapes (totally fun) or cut it into 2" rectangles or squares (totally traditional). Just rock your final design, get them on the baking pans, then make sure to prick small holes and give a sprinkling of turbinado sugar before putting the cookies in the oven. Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies, until the edges are beginning to turn golden brown and the centers don't look dough-y.
Remove to cooling rack and enjoy! These are best within a week, but they freeze beautifully for up to a month.