Even those who don’t think they love shortbread, actually do love shortbread. If they say they don’t like it, they are simply confused. Just force them to eat a piece of this, and watch their faces light up.
That’s one reason I like to make it, the other is that it is the perfect recipe for lazy ass cooks like me, because the recipe only has three ingredients, and since everyone is so crazy about the result, you get a lot of bang for your buck, meaning a lot more credit for baking expertise than you actually deserve. This really appeals to my sleazy side.
When I asked my nephew-in-law, Michael, to send me his recipe for perfect shortbread (for which he is famous, at least in his own mind and in mine), he sent me, not just the recipe, but an entire, actual wad of the stuff, studded with chocolate chips, all the way from Ireland. Even given its long journey, the shortbread tasted fabulous.
Now that I have the recipe, I make the shortbread for every possible occasion. The Thatcher’s housewarming, the Easter brunch, the college girl’s care package, the visit to my parents—EVERY occasion. This trend will probably continue until I find another 3-ingredient treat that has such universal appeal.
I will give you the recipe but you must swear that, if I run into you at a future potluck,, you won’t tell anyone that I brought shortbread because I have a sleazy side.
Yield: 8 pieces
6 ounces flour (1 ¼ cups)
5 tablespoons superfine sugar, divided
4 ounces (1 stick) salted butter, plus extra for the pan
1. Preheat the oven to 300º F. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and four tablespoons of the sugar and mix well. Cut the butter into chunks and work it into the flour with your hands until the dough resembles large crumbs. Press the dough gently and evenly into the pan.
3. Bake the shortbread until it is lightly golden, about 40-45 minutes. Sprinkle it with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. With a serrated knife, score the shortbread (without cutting all the way through) into eight wedges. Allow the shortbread to cool completely in the pan, then cut and serve.
P.S. If you are trying to curry favor with chocoholics, add 1/4-1/2 cup of mini-chocolate chips after the butter is incorporated.