Sail the main course in a simple sturdy craft. Keep her well stocked with short stories and long laughs. Go fast enough to get there but slow enough to see. Moderation seems to be the key. Jimmy Buffett
Yep, I think of Jimmy Buffett as my pal. He’s been with me for over 30 years, singing songs that seem to perfectly reflect whatever I was feeling at the time. Right now my life is at a point where simple things hold a great deal of appeal, which is a frequent subject in Jimmy’s songs.
Sometimes I want to spend an entire day perfecting a complicated and amazing recipe. One with many steps that have to be orchestrated as carefully as a ballet performance – one false step and it’s ruined, but when flawlessly completed yields a thing of great beauty and flavor. Sometimes I’m successful, and sometimes not, but I always keep trying. While I strive for baked goods that look good and taste good, taste is definitely most important. Would that be function following form?
Anyway, there’s almost nothing simpler to make than a shortbread cookie. Butter, flour, sugar, salt and vanilla – just five common ingredients. Of course, you can add different flavors or flavors combinations. or some nuts if you like, but my favorite is usually the simple variety without any additions. They will literally melt in your mouth. So delectable!
It was another cool day here, so it felt like the perfect time to turn on the oven.
Just five ingredients. Make sure the butter is room temperature, and sift the flour and salt together.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Cream the butter and sugar together until it’s combined. For these cookies you don’t want the butter to be super light and fluffy, so as soon as they combine, you can add the vanilla, then stir a bit. Then add the sifted flour and salt and beat until combined. It will be extremely crumbly.
Dump it out onto a pastry cloth and form it into a flat piece. Wrap it up and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes.
Here it is out of the fridge and ready to be rolled out.
Sprinkle some flour on it as you’re rolling it out if it starts to stick to the rolling pin.\
You’ll want it about 1/2″ thick. You can reroll the dough and keep cutting out, just handle it gently.
Put them on a cookie sheet – you can space them fairly close together since they won’t really spread out. Sprinkle with sugar (I like the chunkier sugar but couldn’t find it, so used regular, which is fine, too, just not as sparkly). Bake for about 16 minutes until just beginning to brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack until room temperature.
These are perfect with a glass of milk . Mmmm. Enjoy!
3/4 cup butter, room temperature (no substitutions)
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla
3-1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 35o°.
Cream butter and sugar together until combined. Add vanilla and stir just until combined.
Sift the salt and the flour together and add slowy just until combined.
Dump the dough onto a pastry cloth or marble slab and form it into a flat circle (it will be very crumbly, but don’t worry!).
Refrigerate for about 20 minutes, then place on a pastry cloth or marble slab and roll out to about 1/2″ thick. Cut out with the cookie cutters of your choice, however, you’ll want to use cutters that are fairly simple shapes. You can reroll the dough and keep cutting it out. Alternatively, you can roll the dough into a rectangle (still about 1/2″ thick) and use a pastry cutter to cut out rectangles about 1″ x 2″.
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 16 minutes, or until the cookies just start to brown around the edges. It’s better to undercook than overcook these.
Cool on a wire rack until room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. These also freeze well – use wax paper or parchment paper between the layers.
You can substitute other flavorings for the vanilla, and also make additions such as dried lavender or finely chopped nuts. These are really fun to experiment with.