Monday, December 21, 2009

Shortbread Cookies


Sugar cookies always look so pretty, but most of the time they taste bland and leave me feeling like I just wasted a lot of calories on what could have been a delicious chocolate chip cookie. Instead of reading through all the sugar cookie recipes I could find in hopes of lucking out on one that actually tastes great, I made Dorie's espresso shortbread minus the espresso. These are pure and buttery with excellent texture. It almost feels like waste to slather it up with cloyingly sweet icing, which also only took me hours to decorate. For decorating cookies, I would definitely recommend royal icing over the glaze kind simply because it has a nicer finish. I prefer the texture of it better too even though the meringue powder has a slightly sour aftertaste. To colour the icing, it is important to use the icing gels instead of food colouring because that might dilute the royal icing too much. When using royal, you also have to make sure to keep it covered because it dries quickly. For one batch of cookies, you'll probably only need to make half a batch of royal icing..

cookieshortbreadsnowflake (2)

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Baking: From My Home to Yours

Makes 32 cookies

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (I omitted)
1 tablespoon boiling water (I omitted)
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips (I omitted)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)


Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated.

Form 2 discs and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick or your desired thickness. Use cutters to cut out shapes.

Bake one tray at a time for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes and then transfer the cookies to a rack.

Royal Icing
Whimsical Cakehouse

In a large bowl of a clean electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip to stiff peaks:
1/4 cup meringue powder
1/2 cup cold water

Add and mix at low speed with a paddle attachment, until combined:
1 lb confectioner's sugar

Continue mixing at high speed for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the icing is stiff.

Add and mix on low speed until combined:
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Cover the bowl with a damp cloth while you are working with or coloring the icing, or immediately place it in an airtight container or pastry cone; otherwise, a hard crust will quickly form as it dries.

Yield: 4 cups


  1. Very beautiful! I can imagine this took hours to decorate! Merry Christmas!

  2. I completely agree, sugar cookies aren't worth the calories. Shortbread is so much tastier - great idea to decorate those instead!

  3. shortbread definitely tastes good and they look so pretty with the icing !

  4. I hate when a cookie isn't worth the calories! If I'm eating something bad for me, it better taste good! :D

  5. Your icing skills are so beautiful! These shortbread delights look gorgeous :)

  6. I love shortbread, but have never been a fan of icing on it. Not that I'd turn my nose up to those, they look great! :D

  7. I think these are the most beautiful little snowflakes I've ever seen!! I am VERY jealous of your work. I tried my hand at royal icing and decorating with it...... leeeeeet's just say that they could have been prettier. I'll post em eventually. Or... not. :D

  8. Ha, I love how you snuck in that CCC part, that was great :)

    You may have spent hours, but they look fantastic. If you have any extra cookie calories over there, send 'em over. Sugar cookies are among my fav, dude.

    Happiest of Holidays my Snowy Canadian Sister.

  9. Holy cow - these are wonderful cookies! Truly... they are so exquisitely and perfectly decorated. Very impressive - and I love the blue...

  10. How cute! I love your snowflakes. I bet you needed some chocolate when all the decorating was done!

  11. These look beautiful! Nicely done. Happy Holidays to you.

  12. LOVE your baking obsession...yum yum!
    Happy Holidays!!

  13. Your cookies are SO Pretty! I think i'll make these next July...who says snowflake cookies are just for December?

    Wishing you a fantastic 2010!

  14. My goodness Steph, you just get more and more impressive. These are beautiful. I hope you had a lovely Christmas.

  15. Gorgeous snowflakes Steph! I wanted to decorate cookies this year but ran out of time. I agree with you about sugar cookies usually not being great and feeling like a waste when eating them. I really love the Martha Stewart sugar cookie recipe in The Baking Handbook.

  16. You never cease to impress, Steph. These are darling!

  17. These cookies look absolutely stunning. Hope you had a happy holiday.

  18. I love shortbread! The icing looks good on it. Yummy!

  19. What a beautiful holiday cookie!

  20. Steph good to hear someone else who thinks the same about most sugar cookies. Grea idea making shortbread instead and decorating them. You made my favorite shape, too! Snowflakes! They turned out lovely.

    Happy belated New Year!

  21. Shortbread instead of sugar cookies??? Genius!

  22. Great idea!! I always go through the same thoughts before making sugar cookies!! Going to make shortbreads from now on, as a rule!! Beautiful cookies!

  23. These are gorgeous! (I am seriously impressed.) I actually love the taste of sugar cookies, but these sound like a delicious alternative. And I love royal icing. (Am I strange???) I know so many people prefer meringue powder over egg whites, but not me. I live dangerously. And none of that weird after taste. ;) Love these cookies. I'll definitely have to try them soon.



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