If you were to tell me 3 years ago that shortbread cookies were one of the easiest cookies to ever bake, I would have told you you were lying. And then if you’d have told me that they were made of just 4 ingredients, I would have again insisted that you were lying. But alas, neither of those statements are lies. In fact, they’re the cold hard, beautiful truth.
Shortbread cookies are insanely easy to bake, and they only require four core ingredients – butter, flour, sugar, and salt. Simple as ever, right?! And the best part is, the ingredients are all staples, meaning you likely already have them on hand!
- Mixing bowl: Probably self explanatory, but we will need a mixing bowl in which to make the dough 🙂
- Electric hand mixer (or stand mixer): We’ll use an electric mixer to cream the butter until it is airy and fluffy and then to combine the sugar into the butter.
- Plastic wrap: Once the shortbread dough is prepared, we will roll it out and wrap it in plastic wrap before refrigerating. This will help us easily transfer the dough from the counter to the fridge seamlessly.
- Sharp knife: To cut our cookies!
- Alternatively, you could also cut your cookies out with a small biscuit cutter for round cookies!
- Parchment paper (or silpat mat): We’ll bake the cookies on this which will keep them from sticking to the baking sheet.
- Sheet pan: To bake our shortbread cookies, of course!
- Cooking rack: For cooling our cookies before dipping them into chocolate.
For the shortbread dough:
- Unsalted Butter
- Granulated Sugar (you may sub in cane sugar if needed)
- All Purpose Flour
- Kosher Salt (please refrain from using a more coarse salt as a substitute here)
For dipping the shortbread
- 1 cup baking chocolate (your choice here if you’d like to use dark or milk chocolate – both work great!)
- (optional)1/4 cup sprinkles of choice – I recommend nonpareils!
Can I customize these chocolate dipped shortbread cookies?
Yes, of course! These are highly customizable. If you’d like, just bake the shortbread as is and enjoy without dipping in chocolate. Or, dip in chocolate and forego the sprinkles. Or even, dip in chocolate and then sprinkle on some chopped nuts, like almonds or pistachios! The possibilities are really endless with a basic shortbread recipe, you can dress up the cookies to your liking. One of the favorite ways to doctor them up during the holidays is to dip in dark chocolate and then drizzle on white chocolate once the dark chocolate has dried – delightful!
Step one is creaming the butter – how do I know if my butter is the right temperature?
You will need to ensure your butter is at room temperature, otherwise it will not mix properly! To get your butter to room temperature, simply leave it out at room temperature for about 2 hours prior to use, OR microwave it – do not do both. But, if you’re microwaving it, you will want to be very cautious of the time!
If I ever need the help of the microwave to get my butter to room temp, I’ll microwave it for 5 seconds on medium and then flip the stick of butter over onto its other side and microwave again for 5 more seconds. At that point, your butter should be soft but not melted. Although you may need additional time, as microwaves vary. A reliable test to know if your butter is at room temperature is if you can lightly press into the butter and it easily makes an indent. If so, it’s ready to use!
Can I just mix the butter and sugar together at the same time? Do I really need to mix the butter first?
Yes, you do need to mix the butter first before adding the sugar! This is because mixing the butter first will incorporate air into it and work the butter to the right consistency – that being a very smooth & airy one. When we add in the sugar, the butter should already be airy, and the second mix with the sugar just helps to break down the sugar with the butter.
What about refrigerating the dough before baking? Can that step be skipped?
No, please no. This is arguably the most important step! This step is what re-solidifies the butter as it chills, and is what keeps our cookies from spreading as they bake. Unlike a normal chocolate chip cookie, we do not want the shortbread to spread much as it bakes. Instead, we want the shortbread to remain intact, and this is achieved with a chilled dough – hence refrigerating for 1 – 2 hours before baking. 🙂
Hope you enjoy these this holiday season with family or friends, or even at a cookie swap! Happy baking 🙂