Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies, 3 Ways

Shortbread Cookies Recipe - SavvyMom

Shortbread cookies have been around for centuries and for good reason, too. Made with only four ingredients — butter, sugar, flour, and salt — they can be manipulated into a variety of shapes and flavours with little effort and time. While shortbread is often chilled and cut into holiday shapes using cookie cutters, the dough can also be pressed into a pan and scored into pieces, rolled into balls, or shaped into a log and sliced. One simple recipe can easily yield three or more different cookies that look as though you spent hours baking.

The quality of the shortbread is often related to the quality of the items used. Because there are so few ingredients, I like to recommend buying the best butter you can afford. You will be rewarded with a crisp but tender shortbread that holds its shape well, yet crumbles just a little with each bite taken. A true testament to a well-made cookie.

Here are three variations of shortbread cookies using just one recipe (adapted from The Barefoot Contessa). I like to divide the dough into thirds and customize each according to the three sets of directions listed below.

Do you make shortbread for the holidays? Pssst… we also have a great allergy-friendly shortbread recipe.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Recipe:

You’ll Need

  • 1½ cups butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ¼ tsp fine salt
  • 1 vanilla bean

Prep and Cook

  • Beat the butter with an electric or hand-held mixer on high for 1 minute
    Add the sugar and mix for 3–5 minutes or until the mixture is thick and fluffy
  • Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined
    Slice a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds from inside the pod with the back of a butter knife
    Add the vanilla bean to the dough and stir to incorporate
  • Divide the mixture into three equal portions and follow the following directions for baking different cookie variations
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
    Lightly grease an 8” x 8” baking pan and line it with parchment paper, letting the parchment hang over the ends of the short side
  • Press 1/3 of the shortbread dough into the pan, making sure it is even in thickness across the baking dish
    Using a knife and ruler, score the dough into 32 pieces (8 lines across, 4 lines down) and pierce each with a fork at even intervals
  • Bake the cookies for 16–18 minutes or until the edges are golden brown
    Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes
    Cut the bars along the scored lines and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan
  • Melt ¾ cup chocolate chips
    Dip one half of the long side of the cookie in the chocolate and lay on a piece of parchment paper to set
    Repeat with remaining cookies
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
    Shape 1/3 of the shortbread dough into balls (about ¾–1” in diameter)
  • Place the balls on the baking sheet, and bake for 15–17 minutes or until the tops crack and the bottoms are golden brown
  • Let the cookies cool slightly and then toss them around in a mixing bowl with ½ cup powdered sugar
    Remove cookies and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
    Add ½ cup dried cranberries and the zest of 2 clementines to 1/3 of the shortbread dough and stir to combine
  • Shape the dough into a 1½” diameter log (and about 8” long) and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap
    Refrigerate for 45 minutes
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
    Remove the cookie dough from the plastic wrap and cut it into ¼” thick slices
    Place the cookies on the baking sheet and bake for 11–14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the centre is set
    Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container


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