Shortbread has many aficionados, but like all intense passions, there is a great divide among enthusiasts about principle and purpose. Many fanatics argue over whether to work the butter into the flour toward the end of mixing, or cream butter and sugar together initially. In this version I use the latter method, and bake my shortbread in a pan for crisp, golden shortbread rectangles, or fingers as they are sometimes called.
After testing the recipe at several different temperatures, I found I liked the “low and slow” method best. I bake these at 300F [150C] until golden brown for a rich, crisp shortbread.
How this recipe differs from others:
I bake my shortbread a little longer, so it is golden brown, because I like it crisp, which is why I give a large baking time range in the directions. It does turn dark golden quickly, especially on the edges, so keep an eye on it if you are letting it bake a little longer.
I like to use both granulated and confectioners’ sugar and a good bit of salt, and also add an egg yolk to add both a little color and richness.
Important Tips For Making Shortbread Cookies:
Butter is the major ingredient here, so make sure to use a brand of butter that you love.
I prefer to use unsalted butter so I can control how much salt I put into the cookie, but if you have a salted butter you love, you can use that instead; taste the finished dough before adding more salt. Make sure that the dough is completely combined, and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixer.
Tender Shortbread Cookies (pan-style)
- 1 cup [2 sticks or 227 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup [130 g] granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/3 cup [40 g] confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups [284 g] all-purpose flour
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300F [150C]. Grease and line a 9 in [23 cm] square baking pan, see note.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on low speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated and confectioners' sugar and salt, and beat again until creamy and combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix again until combined, one minute. Add the flour and and mix on low until completely combined.
- Move the dough to the prepared pan, and spread the dough into an even layer across the bottom of the pan. Spreading a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the dough helps with moving it and keeping it from sticking. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar.
- Place the shortbread in the oven and bake until the shortbread is pale golden and firm to the touch, 35 to 50 minutes (see notes). Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the top with more granulated sugar if desired. Let the shortbread cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Use the parchment sling to carefully remove the shortbread, then cut the warm shortbread into rectangle pieces. I cut the piece in half horizontally, and then cut each half into 6 rectangles. Let the shortbread cool for several hours. Shortbread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.