Shortbread with variations:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees, with rack in upper third. Sift flour and salt into a bowl; set aside. Put butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl. Gradually add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture all at once; mix until just combined.
- Butter a 10-inch round springform pan or cake pan. Using plastic wrap, press dough evenly into pan. With plastic on dough, refrigerate 20 minutes.
- Cut dough into 8 wedges with a paring knife. Using a wooden skewer (not a fork, it’s tines with pull at the dough), prick all over at ¼-inch intervals.
- Bake until golden brown and firm in the center, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack. Recut shortbread into wedges; let cool completely in pan. Can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
Follow classic shortbread recipe, mixing in 1 tsp. vanilla at end of step 1. Add ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut and ½ cup finely chopped toasted macadamia nuts; mix to combine. Proceed with step 2. Butter an 11½-by-8½-inch rimmed baking sheet, and line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on long sides; butter parchment. Using plastic wrap, press dough into prepared pan. Leave plastic on dough, and refrigerate 20 minutes. Cut into 32 rectangles (about 3 by 1 inch each); prick top all over with a wooden skewer. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown and firm in center, about 40 minutes. Lift out by overhang; transfer to a wire rack to cool. Recut into rectangles.
Lemon Shortbread Variation:
Follow classic shortbread recipe, mixing in 5 tsp. finely grated lemon zest and 1 T. fresh lemon juice at end of step 1. Proceed with step 2, then halve dough, and shape into disks. Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Cut out rounds with a 2-inch fluted cutter. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Bake until pale golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Walnut-Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Variation:
Follow classic shortbread recipe, mixing in 1 tsp. pure vanilla at end of step 1. Proceed with step 2, and then stir in 5 oz. (1 cup) finely chopped semisweet chocolate. Halve dough. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper, and shape into a log. Roll in parchment to 2 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow the log and force out air. Unwrap, and roll each log in 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts. Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Cut logs into ¼-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool completely.