A mix-and-go approach was on order for Day 3 of the AP’s 12 Days of Holiday Cookies.
As in, dump the ingredients in the mixer and you’re already nearly done. Because these buttery rich vanilla shortbread cookies take just minutes to pull together. Once the dough is mixed, it’s just a matter of scooping it onto the baking sheet and pressing it flat with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup. It’s an ideal cookie to make with the kids.
For a nice variation (that adds almost no extra work) add 1/3 cup sliced toasted almonds (slightly crushed) and 1/4 cup diced candied citrus peel.
Because there are so few ingredients, make sure to use the best quality you can find. When possible, use European (or European-style) butter, which is creamier. If you can’t find vanilla bean paste, use pure vanilla extract.
LESSON: Using a glass with a decorative shape is an easy way to add a creative flourish to pressed cookies such as shortbread.
Start to finish: 45 minutes (15 minutes active)
Makes 24 cookies
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for pressing the cookies
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
Pinch fine sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
Heat the oven to 325 F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla bean paste and salt. Beat on medium until creamy and well combined.
Add the flour and beat until the mixture resembles wet sandy crumbs that start to stick together. The dough should not clump together as a ball.
Using a tablespoon-size measuring spoon, scoop out balls of dough and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches all around. Use the bottom of a glass dipped in a bit of granulated sugar to flatten the rounds to about 1/3 inch thick. The sugar may not stick to the glass the first time, but will afterward. Using a glass with a decoratively or distinctly shaped bottom will leave an attractive imprint on the surface of the cookie.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light-golden blond and firm. The cookies should remain very light in color and still be tender. They will finish crisping as they cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.
Nutrition information per cookie (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 107 calories; 60 calories from fat (56 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 18 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 0 g fiber; 11 mg sodium.
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