Shortbread cookies are an annual tradition. And, it’s hard to mess with a classic. So we didn’t! Instead, these cookies celebrate everything we love about shortbread, just in a lighter, more delicate (and delicious) format. To really nail this shortbread cookie recipe, we have a few tips to keep in mind, to make sure every batch is as perfect as it can possibly be:
1. Measure the flour correctly
This means spooning it into your measuring cup, and levelling it with a knife or offset spatula. Why? Scooping flour from the bag with a measuring cup compresses the flour, and will add more flour to your dough than the recipe was tested with. Too much flour will make your batter thicker and harder to work with.
2. Purchase pre-portioned butter
Purchase butter in sticks, rather than a one-pound block. It will soften more quickly, and it’s an easier way to get an accurate measurement (if measuring ingredients by weight, you’re baking like the pros). Even though it has a higher price point, for baking, the pre-portioned pieces provide accuracy in measuring which can save time and waste in the kitchen. “It’s worth it,” according to the associate editors who developed this recipe, Emily Kichler and Carolyn Chua.
3. Soften the butter enough*
For this recipe, we prefer to leave the butter out overnight (although the warmer your kitchen, the less time it will need to come up to temperature). To ensure your batter becomes soft enough to be easily piped, the butter should be so malleable that it can be dipped into with a spoon.
*Cooler butter will still blend into the dough, but it will make piping the rosettes much more difficult. Should this happen, let the dough sit and warm further before continuing with piping.
4. Decorate before baking
These decorative silver dragees (shown above) will not stick to the cookie post-bake. If using, sprinkle over cookies before they go into the oven.
5. Parchment paper is your best friend
It keeps cookies from sticking to pan and it can be reused until the whole batch is finished. Bonus: Trace circle guides onto the parchment to match up the size of all the rosettes.
6. Know your tools
A piping bag is ideal to form nicely-shaped cookies (fill it with half the batter, pipe, and repeat), just don’t overfill it, or piping will become difficult and unwieldy). Tip: In a pinch, you can use a heavy-duty freezer bag for piping and cut off the tip, or use the batter to make drop-style cookies.
Originally published December 2017; Updated November 2020.