These shortbread cookies come from the brilliant Eli Zabar. They are the quintessence of shortbread and have been my all-time favorite cookie since the first time I tried one, over fifteen years ago. We also use the dough for lots of variations on this recipe — Linzer cookies, pecan shortbread and even raspberry tart.
Technique tip: If the dough is crumbly, add one teaspoon of warm water at a time until the dough comes together. I find the edges of shortbread are ever so slightly sharper if you chill the cookies for 10 minutes before you bake them. Shortbread can be cut into shapes and refrigerated for a week and then baked the day you serve them.
Preheat the oven 350 F.2.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined.3.
Add the vanilla.4.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.5.
Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.6.
Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3-inch heart-shaped cutter.7.
Place the hearts on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar.8.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.9.
Allow to cool to room temperature.
Recipe courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Copyright © 1999 by Ina Garten. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
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