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A New Year's Lunch

Shortbread Cookies
The recipes and text are from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten. Excerpted by permission from Clarkson N. Potter Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. 1999
Photographs by Melanie Acevedo

These shortbread cookies come from the brilliant Eli Zabar of E.A.T., the Vinegar Factory, and Across the Street in New York City. They are the quintessence of shortbread and have been my all-time favorite cookie since the first time I tried one, over fifteen years ago. We also use the dough for lots of variations on this recipe - "Linzer Cookies (page 178), Pecan Shortbread (page 181), and even Raspberry Tart (page 182).

Note: I find the edges of shortbread are ever so slightly sharper if you chill the cookies for ten minutes before you bake them. Shortbread can also be cut into shapes and refrigerated for a week and then baked the day you serve them.

Yield: 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with your choice of cutter. Place the cut-outs on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.


...Published: December 2004

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