Christmas is coming, so time to start some baking. This is a favorite of my stepson TJ’s. The grainy texture of the granulated sugar is somehow so satisfying, giving the shortbread a buttery crunch, so yummy! By the way the butter needs to be cold, not at room temperature when you use it.
Yields about 4 dozen- 1 1/2 inch x 2 inch cookies, that are 1/4 inch thick
8 oz. (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups flour- plus a little more for rolling out the dough
Line two baking sheets with parchment. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl (use the paddle attachment) or a large mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn’t perfectly smooth, 2 minutes. Add the flour and mix on low speed for about 5 minutes or until it pulls together, don’t over mix. Pull the dough out of the bowl and form into a ball and then flatten out on a floured surface, preparing to roll it out.
Roll: On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for a uniform thickness to ensure even baking.
Cut: Cut the dough into bars or squares with a sharp knife or, using cookie cutters, cut out shapes as close to one another as possible. Press the scraps together, roll them out, and cut out more cookies. If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate it briefly. Arrange the cookies on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake immediately, so that the butter within the cookies does not become too warm and soft, you want the cookies to have a flaky texture when they finish baking. If you can’t bake right away, cover and place in refrigerator until you are ready to do so.
Bake: Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Bake the cookies until golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top, 35-40 minutes. After 20 minutes, swap the position of the baking sheets and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking. Cool on a rack and freeze for Christmas in a sealed container and take out and thaw as you need.