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Classic shortbread cookies

Add fresh rosemary or countless other additions to these classic shortbread cookies – lemon zest, hazelnuts, almonds, lavender, or ginger. 

By In Praise of Leftovers / December 11, 2013

Don't be intimated by rolling, this dough is easy to work with, and the results will delight.

In Praise of Leftovers


Shortbread always makes me think of my sister. Every Christmas, she makes a gargantuan batch of dough and proceeds to turn each cookie into a frosted work of art. 

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In Praise of Leftovers

Sarah Murphy-Kangas is a cook, writer, mother, teacher, and group facilitator. She lives with her family in Seattle, Washington. She started her blog, In Praise of Leftovers, as a way to share her kitchen exploits with friends and family and further explore her obsession with food. Her favorite challenge is to make something out of nothing.

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I trust myself less with the decorations (yikes!) and more with the recipe. I was craving a traditional cut-out shortbread recipe that wasn't fussy, and it actually took me a while to find one. I ended up coming back to my tattered "Silver Palate" cookbook. The first one. I remember so clearly my mom cooking out of that in the 1980s, way before people even knew what pesto was. Or sun-dried tomatoes. Or roasting garlic, which seemed so crazy at the time. Forty cloves of garlic? Wild!

Don't let the rolling intimidate you. This dough is really easy to work with, and the results are perfection. I added some fresh rosemary here. You can leave it out or add countless other (finely chopped) additions – lemon zest, pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds, Chinese 5 spice powder, lavender, candied ginger. Shortbread tastes even better if it ages for a few days, won't go stale for at least a week, and is so wonderful with a cup of tea in the afternoon. 

Rosemary shortbread

 3/4 lb. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1. Cream butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy.

2. Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla and blend thoroughly.

3. Gather dough into into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 3 or 4 hours.

4. Roll out chilled dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into rounds or shapes with your favorite biscuit or cookie cutter. Sprinkle tops with granulated sugar. Place cookies on un-greased cookie sheets and refrigerate for 30-45 more minutes before baking.

5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes, or until just starting to color lightly. Cookies should not brown at all. Cool on a rack. 

Related post on In Praise of Leftovers: Russian Teacakes

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of food bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.


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