One of the coolest things about shortbread dough is that it is so flexible. You can take a basic shortbread recipe and flavor it with extracts, cocoa powder, chocolate chips or just about anything you want.
I have done my fair share of doctoring up shortbread and thought it might be fun to share a few ideas for how you can make 3 different shortbread cookies this holiday season. I’ll start you off first with a Basic Vanilla Shortbread recipe, followed up by a couple of fun variations on the more classic version. These recipes are also perfect for a cookie exchange or for making homemade gifts with a more personal touch for all the people in your life that you would like to show your appreciation for.
Basic Vanilla Shortbread Cookies
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. To Make the Cookies: In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the vanilla. Then spoon in the flour and salt, mixing just until the dough forms. Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it for at least 3 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out to 1/8″ thickness then cut desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place the shapes on a lined cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden brown.
And now that you’ve mastered the classic recipe, here are a couple more really delicious variations that are also fun experiment with.
Double Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Bars: These minty bars are studded with white chocolate chips and is the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of cocoa!
Espresso Shortbread with Chocolate Freckles: I do not advise giving these to children, unless you want them up all night! They are flecked with just the right amount of chocolate to give them a sweet twist.