Shortbread pan cookies

(Food Styling/Denise Drower Swidey; Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe)
February 10, 2010

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Makes 16 triangles

The two popular brands of kosher salt, Diamond Crystal and Morton’s, look similar but vary quite a bit by weight. Use 3/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal or 1/2 teaspoon Morton’s. This shortbread bakes at a low temperature for either 1 hour (to make the traditional triangles that are barely colored around the edges) or 1 1/4 hours (to make triangles that are pale golden brown).

Butter (for the pan, if necessary)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour
Extra sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 300 degrees. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Have on hand a 9-inch nonstick cake pan (it does not need to be buttered) or a regular 9-inch layer cake pan (butter lightly).

2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment or the beaters, cream the butter, salt, and sugar at a medium speed for 30 seconds or until well combined. Add the flour and mix on low speed for 1 minute or until blended. Don’t overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. The dough will look like large, moist crumbs.

3. Press the dough into the cake pan. With a fork, pierce the dough in a decorative pattern. For traditional shortbread, bake for 1 hour or until the surface is barely colored and set. For a crisp texture, bake for 1 1/4 hours or until the surface is pale golden brown and set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Immediately sprinkle with extra sugar (1 tablespoon).

4. Cool the shortbread in the pan for 20 minutes. Invert the round onto a cutting board and then set right-side up. If necessary, loosen the round from the pan by running an offset spatula around the edge. Using a sharp or serrated knife, cut the warm round into four quarters. Cut each quarter into 4 triangles. Leave to cool completely. Store the shortbread in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Denise Drower Swidey