Shortbread cookies are a specialty of mine. I enjoy baking them and my friends enjoy eating them. When I first began baking up shortbread, I went the traditional route and attempted to roll the sugary dough into Martha Stewart-worthy logs with little success. The cookies tasted lovely but looked a little less than. One day, in my haste and frustration, I heaped all the dough onto the cookie sheet into a mound that I squared off with a sharp knife once the cookies were out of the oven. I began calling them shortbread bites and merrily went on my way. This past month, I have been seeing recipes for shortbread bites popping up all over the place. Here are a few pointers I will offer.
Your basic shortbread dough is equal parts butter, flour and sugar....give or take a smidge here or there. I use a little less sugar. The dough is so simple to make and comes together so easily you can whip a batch up with a worn wooden spoon. No mixers needed. Use confectioners/powdered sugar, it adds no grain to the dough. Add a pinch of salt, or better yet, sprinkle a little salt on top. When adding vanilla, forget a measuring spoon, simply add a cap full, that's what my mamos taught me. If you wish to add sprinkles or lavender buds, use your hands and then add a smattering to the top. Make a double batch of dough to store in the freezer. Form one part into a log so you can have instant slice and bake goodness for those gray mornings that need a pick me up. Remove the dough from the oven a minute or two even before the timer goes off. An underbaked shortbread cookie will have a dazzling bit of chew and it changes the whole cookie eating experience.
When making shortbread bites, you can use a knife to square off edges (don't throw them away, they are just as tasty) and slice through the dough while it is still warm to cut dozens of small bite-sized piece. You can also use an assortment of your smallest cookie cutters. They have a certain charm that enhances the sweetness of the cookie. Most of all, make sure to share the wealth. A small bit of baked goodness can usual brighten the dreariest of days! Happy almost-Febraury!