First up, a little something to pack in those cookie care packages to ship to family and friends around the country.
Shortbreads are perfect for the holiday cookie package. Crisp and sandy, they can handle a few days in transit without losing their delicious buttery flavor. While, honestly, I’ve never been the biggest fan of shortbread (I like my cookies soft and chewy), I have to say I’ve eaten a shameful amount of these. And I’m well on my way to being a shortbread convert too (along with apple pie and baked fruit. This is apparently the year of changing my mind about food!) Flecked with vanilla bean seeds and kissed with just a hint of lemon, they’re the perfect bite-sized treat. If I can tear myself away from nibbling them as is, I might even dip the rest in chocolate for an even more irresistible treat.
Adapted from Bake! by Nick Malgieri
Makes about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen 1-½ inch cookies
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
½ vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Add scraped vanilla beans and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove bowl from mixer and, with a rubber spatula, fold in flour by hand.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into a large rectangle. Divide the dough in half. Working with a half at a time, gently roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Use a 1 ½-inch cookie cutter to cut out shapes, placing them on prepared baking sheets 1 inch apart.
5. Gather the scraps and reroll with other half of the dough, repeating until all dough has been used.
6. Bake cookies, rotating pans halfway through, until edges just begin to brown, about 14 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.