I couldn’t stop thinking about shortbread after my recent Shortbread round-up, so I made up a batch the other night. They were perfect! All my in-house testers agreed. The perfect companion for a cup of tea. And they just get better the longer they sit. Not many cookies you can say that about!
Did you know (ya, you probably did but in case you don’t) … that recipes call for unsalted butter and then added salt because unsalted butter is just better butter. Those butter making folks need to use their very best butter for unsalted because it doesn’t have anything (like salt) to mask the flavour. So, especially for cookies, where butter is everything, be sure to use the best quality unsalted butter you can find. You’ll be glad you did when you taste them later!
And while I’m on the subject of baking and butter, if you (like me!) always forget to take the butter out of the fridge to soften, you can carefully soften it in the microwave. Place 1 cup butter on a plate and microwave for 15 seconds at 50% power. (Your microwave may vary slightly). You don’t want any butter to melt. Stop microwaving before you get there. If butter still seems too cold, just cut it into chunks and let sit at room temperature for 10 or 15 minutes. Alternately, you can grate the cold butter into a bowl with a box grater and let stand at room temperature until soft (doesn’t take too long).
Poppy Seed Shortbread
Summary: I love these cookies rolled a little thicker (1/2-inch or so) and cut into 2-inch squares with a knife. If you’re in a hurry, roll the dough between paper right after mixing and then put the it in the freezer instead of the fridge until firm (10 or 15 minutes). Cut and bake.
- 1 cup good unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup icing (confectioners) sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, about two minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, poppy seeds, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Form the dough into a disk and, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
- Preheat oven to 300° F. Roll the dough between two sheets of waxed or parchment paper to a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Return the dough to the refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes. Cut the shortbread into shapes with a two-inch cookie cutter, or use a knife to cut into squares. Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Prick shortbread with a fork and bake until pale golden all over, 23 to 25 minutes (a little longer if you made them thicker). Cool on a wire rack.
- Variation: Replace the poppy seeds with about 3 Tbsp. of very finely chopped pecans (I just run them through the food processor) for a lovely pecan shortbread.
Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 25 min | Total time: 2 hours
Number of servings (yield): 12
Adapted from Claudia Fleming, The Last Course | Photo