If you do, this is the recipe for you! However, if you like complex, multi-multi- step projects with expensive and hard to find ingredients, then, sorry, this won’t fill the bill.
What’s this cookie I’m trying to “sell” you on? It’s a simple shortbread cookie with a rich buttery taste and a light texture, with only 5 ingredients. Plus, the recipe is so versatile you can customize it for every holiday or event. For me, that’s a huge plus because it leaves room for my imagination and curiosity to play with it. That’s how I came up with this Valentine’s version- heart shaped and baked with red sugar on top. How easy can a cookie be? Yet still tasty and very special.
The stand out ingredient in this recipe is butter. Oh, how I love butter! Always have, always will. Of course, I try (sort of) to keep my consumption in moderation. Except for cookie making! No skimping there, LOL.
So I made the recipe with 4 different types of butter and then asked 4 people to blind-taste and give me their opinions. Guess what? I got 4 different answers! So for now, I’m making it with a standard grocery store butter.
Here are the 5 ingredients in the recipe (exclusive of decoration):
It mixes up quickly, too. The only real delay is while it rests in the refrigerator. That step helps reduce spreading when it bakes, and I think it also gives the flavors a chance to meld. Here's my dough ready to go in the frig.
As an aside, sanding sugar is made of larger crystals so it doesn’t melt into the cookie at all and it’s prettier and stays shinier than regular granulated sugar will. However, it also includes some very small amount of carnauba wax. Yeah, you heard right. I’m sure it helps keep that bright shiny look we love, but hey, it just doesn’t seem romantic to say “and these cookies have carnauba wax in them!” Although carnauba wax is approved by the FDA and the EU for use in food products, I’ll take the hit in the shiny department, thank you very much, and use regular sugar that’s been colored.
By the way, I used a shaker to sprinkle the sugar onto the cookie dough. I tried doing it with my fingers, with a spoon and through a sieve, but the shaker gave me the most even coverage.
Believe it or not, the red sugar lasts through the baking, and keeps the cookie looking pretty nearly forever! I kept some for a month, and they’re still pretty. Stale, but pretty! Here’s a look at the freshly baked cookies:
So let’s cut to the chase. Here’s the recipe for my Sugared Shortbread Hearts- the Million $ Cookie. Have fun and tell me how it works for you!
You can open a printable/saveable pdf here:
Shortbread Cookie Base Recipe
Adapted from King Arthur Flour SIFT
A rich and delightfully tasty shortbread type of cookie that you can use as a base recipe. At Christmas time, add chocolate drizzles and chunks of candy cane. For an elegant dessert, make stick shapes with the bottom halves dipped in chocolate. This base recipe will go as far as your imagination will take it!
Today’s version is for Valentine’s day, so I’ve cut it in 3” X 3” heart shapes and sprinkled red sugar over the cookies before baking. Maybe egg shapes with pastel sugar colors at Easter? Or blue for Hanukah, red and blue stars for American Independence Day….
Makes: about 12 3” X 3” heart shapes
1/2 cup (60 g) Powdered sugar, sifted
¾ cup (170g) Butter, at low room temperature
½ tsp Salt
1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
1 ½ cups (177 g) AP Flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached AP) sifted
For Valentine’s Hearts: Red Sugar
To make the Dough
1. Using a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar, salt and vanilla until well mixed. If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer or spoon will also work!
2. Add flour and mix until just combined. Note: You’ll have a more tender cookie if you remove the dough from the mixer with some flour still showing, and hand mix it in. DO NOT OVERBEAT!
3. Form into a patty and chill for 2 – 24 hours
Roll and Bake
1. Preheat the oven to 350 and put parchment paper (or a silmat) on a cookie sheet.
2. Roll the dough out to around 1/4” thick
3. Cut out with a 3” cookie cutter of your choice and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, 2” apart.
4. Press together the scrap dough from between the shapes, roll it out and cut more cookies, placing them on the baking sheet (use a second sheet if necessary).
5. Sprinkle each cookie with colored sugar and very lightly press on the sugar so it sticks to the cookies.
6. Bake one sheet at a time, turning the cookie sheet at about 4 minutes. Bake until just firm when pressed. Check for doneness at 8 min and then every 2 minutes after that, removing when slightly firm, but not browned.
7. Cool and enjoy!
Note about the colored sugar:You can buy decorative colored sugars in most grocery stores in the baking department. Or you can color your own using plain granulated sugars or uncolored sanding sugar. Instructions are in this blog.