Even if you give every single one of these cookies to your neighbor because you’re really trying to hold fast to those New Year’s resolutions (especially now that the weather is warming up), we implore you to make these for the sheer pleasure that you will receive from the aroma that fills your kitchen while they are baking.
(P.S. You won’t be able to resist eating one once you smell them. And once you eat one, well, it’s over.)
Vanilla Bean & Bourbon Shortbread (adapted from Ina’s basic shortbread recipe)
- 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (measured using the spoon and level method)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, near room temperature
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
Sift together the flour and salt and set aside.
Cut the three sticks of butter into half-cubes.
Throw the butter along with the two sugars into your mixing bowl. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise,
then scrape that black gold into the mixing bowl. Don’t leave any behind!!
Since we used a Tahitian vanilla bean, we used some of our homemade Tahitian vanilla extract. Yes that’s a teaspoon in the picture above, but use a tablespoon’s worth – trust us.
Now for your most important decision: which bourbon to use? We recommend something smooth and of good quality . . .
. . . like this four grain whiskey from Tuthilltown Spirits microdistillery in New York (thanks, Ed.).
Don’t even think for a second that this is a waste of good bourbon – it may be the most enjoyable shot of bourbon you’ve ever had.
We’ve found that 2 1/2 tablespoons is just about right. Once you’ve added the vanilla and bourbon, mix on medium low to combine well.
Finally, with the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour/salt mixture until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and the dough comes together cleanly off the sides of the mixing bowl, as pictured above.
Shape the dough into a ball, then flatten into a disc. Wrap the disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about two hours. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees at least 25 minutes before cutting your cookies. Remove the refrigerated dough, roll out to a thickness of about 1/2″, and cut cookies using your favorite cookie cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake just until the tops start to brown just slightly, about 25 minutes.
We used a star cookie cutter the first time we made these, but we found that the points of the star get done more than the center. So, they may look pretty . . .
. . . but it’s better to stick with the more traditional round shape, like we did the second time around:
This second batch was even better because the cookie crumb was consistent all the way through. We made these with a 1 3/4″ diameter round.
But, either way you cut it (pun unintended), this particular shortbread is our new favorite.
Sorry, Maple Walnut, you’ve been replaced!