A while back I promised my cousin that I would send her some cookies. And so the hunt began for a great cookie recipe. I searched a plethora of places, asked friends, got some good candidates, but nothing spoke to me. So, I finally came across a simple recipe for shortbread and decided to doctor it up a bit to suit my needs.
Of course, the heat wave we just sweltered through steered me away from anything to do with chocolate. Let’s face it, when it is 105 degrees in your kitchen you will end up covered in melted chocolate if you even think about chocolate cookies. Plus there is the distinct likelihood that any successfully executed cookies sent interstate would arrive melted and, most likely, in one giant ball.
Plus, who doesn’t love a good butter shortbread cookie?
The recipe is simple:
This makes roughly (just under) 2 dozen cookies.
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbs + 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1-2 Tbs honey, to taste
1-2 Tbs very finely ground coffee beans, to taste
Start with creaming the butter and sugar in a bowl using a hand mixer. Add the 1/2 tsp of vanilla and pinch of salt. Slowly add the flour in 1/2 cup increments and incorporate. In my experience, the dough was made up of beautiful buttery lumps, but did not really come together dough until I had incorporated all of the ingredients, turned the mixture out onto plastic wrap, and rolled it into shape. Do not panic if you experience the same thing, it’s totally fine. The high ratio of butter to dry ingredients causes these delicious buttery lumps and means your cookies are going to be awesome!
Once the flour is incorporated, add in the rest of the vanilla, the ground cardamom, honey, and coffee. This flavor combination is one that I use often, especially when making iced coffee. I’ll infuse the coffee with cardamom when I brew it, then add honey and vanilla to my frothed milk. Everyone raves about this chilly beverage and I thought I’d enjoy it as a cookie as well. If this flavor combination is not your thing, now is when you skip my recommendation and add whatever flavors and/or items that you like. It could be other spices, dried fruits, nuts, chocolate pieces, etc. The sky is the limit here. Recently, we experimented, quite successfully, with dried cherries, lime zest, and pistachios. If you have a favorite combination, let us know! We’re always looking for new flavor profiles.
Once everything is combined, turn out your dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. I like to roll it into a round log, but many people will make it into a rectangular shape. Then put it in the fridge or freezer for at least an hour. If you are going to slice the log into cookies (as I did), the freezer is probably best. A nearly frozen dough holds its shape better while slicing. If, however, you plan on rolling out the dough and using cookie cutters to make your shapes, then the fridge is better, as the dough won’t really roll out while frozen. Either way, it’s a matter of personal preference.
To bake these, place them in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes until browned. Let the cookies cool on a rack before sneaking some. Personally I think shortbread cookies aren’t as good when eaten warm; something about the texture is not right. And, as with so many cookies, they’re best served with a nice cold glass of milk.