Short Bread Cookies

Welcome to the second installment of a series of posts on holiday baking (mostly including, but not limited to, cookies).

But first, let me introduce you to the newest addition to my collection of kitchen gadgets:

It came with nifty attachments.

The cord even pulls in when you push this button on the side.

Our stand mixer has proven itself to be weak one time too many. The price on this baby was right at Costco this week. I think we're going to be very happy together.

I love short bread because it's so simple: butter, sugar, flour. Done.

This recipe is from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, and I've come to really trust them. All of the rest of the recipes I make in the holiday cookie series will probably come from this book. I think their cookie recipes are especially good, and I've only made about 3 of them. They have little side notes with tips for each recipe, or a recommended brand of the key ingredient.
By the kneading stage in this recipe I knew it was better than the chocolate short bread I made a couple of weeks ago. The chocolate shortbread was falling apart because there were too many dry ingredients and not enough moisture. Maybe it's the cocoa powder? Maybe it should be made with melted chocolate? I'm not sure. Either way, this one is a winner.

One of the great things about short bread is that you have a choice: you can roll it out smoothly into a pleasing shape,

or you can just pound it into a sheet of dough, and throw it in the oven as is. I've made another recipe where you just roll it into a block and cut it into squares when you're done. It tastes like Christmas either way. My Thursday-class was canceled this week, so I had the extra time to make it into a...sun. Yeah.

When I was in 8th grade, I took an aptitude test that said I should either be a pastry chef, or an officer in a woman's correctional facility.

My mother suggested I combine the two and be a pastry chef in a woman's correctional facility.

Obviously, I'm neither, but it is sort of funny that a test I took when I was 14 correctly told me I would enjoy baking and cooking during my 20s.

These made my apartment smell amazing, and they really make me think of Christmas. Four stars!

Short Bread Cookies, from
America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
1/2 tsp salt
16 tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tbs granulated sugar

1. Whisk the flour and salt together, and set aside.

2. Cream butter and confectioner's sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed. Reduce the speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.

3. Using your hands, press the dough into a ball in the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead until it is very smooth, about 3 minutes. Press the dough into a round disk, then place it on top of a large piece of parchment and roll out into a 9-inch circle, about 1/2 inch thick, using a rolling pin.*

4. Transfer the dough and parchment to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Crimp the edges of the circle into a design (if you'd like), and poke the surface all over with a fork (again, in whatever fashion you'd like). Score into 16 wedges. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes.

5. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees F. Sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the surface of the dough. Bake until the shortbread is pale golden brown, 40-45 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.

6. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and, using a sharp knife, cut through the scored marks to separate the wedges. Let cool on the sheet for 1 hour before serving.

*I forgot about this and then realized I have no rolling pin. Instead I used a combination of my hands and a large drinking glass.


  1. My "PLAN" test said I should be a secretary or a kindergarten teacher!
    My favorite questions on that test were:
    Do you enjoy reading magazines such as "Popular Science?"
    "Would you enjoy assembling cabinets using instructions?"
    and of course, the best one: "Do you enjoy putting things in boxes?"
    For the record, I LOVE PUTTING THINGS IN BOXES! That's why I was a theory major! ;)

  2. Do they literally mean putting things in boxes? I get some satisfaction from that, too.

    Kindergarten teacher sounds really appropriate for you.

  3. Oh my gosh, that looks amazing. I think if you were listening to The Nutcracker while making this, it would've put you over into a suspended state of bliss.

    I'm a little nervous about the attachment on the left though. I know what a whisk is but... the other one makes me itchy.

  4. I think that's a dough hook, though I'm a little surprised that they make them for hand mixers. And if you're itchy, I'm sure it would make a good back scratcher.

  5. A dough hook?

    That sounds painful. And inappropriate.

    Be careful!

  6. Yeah, I haven't had the knead for one...get it? Knead?