Shortbread is the perfect cookie baking project for people who don’t like to bake cookies. There are only three ingredients, there’s no raw egg (so you could eat the dough if you wanted, though you probably wouldn’t want to), and there’s no rolling out dough and cutting it into shapes. You just mix the ingredients, pack into a brownie pan, and bake. If you want to get fancier, you can add any number of other things.
My “other thing” this time is dried coconut. It tastes sweet, browns nicely, and if you don’t overuse it, it’s barely noticeable to people who don’t like it. (That being everyone in the family besides myself — I can take it or leave it. Also, I had an almost full bag of the stuff that I’d bought on sale for some reason.)
You could use chocolate chips, nuts, or both, instead of coconut. A thin layer of jam over the top would be good too, if you could manage to spread it. Otherwise, it’s good on the finished shortbread.
Shortbread is very much a part of Christmas here in Canada; it’s a holdover from Scotland, along with the bagpipes on special occasions. Though it’s less well known in the U.S., it’s certainly not unknown. Even the U.S. Army has a recipe for from-scratch shortbread. (That one starts with six pounds of flour.)
In fact, lots of cookbooks have recipes for shortbread, but though they all give you a crumbly, somewhat bland cookie or bar, there’s plenty of disagreement between them over things like the right kind of sugar (brown or white? granulated or powdered?) and even the ratio of flour to butter to sugar. This version is fairly low on butter and will seem a little dry before it’s baked, but it all comes together, especially if you remember to brush the top with more butter.
- 1 ½ cups all purpose white flour
- ½ cup dried sweetened coconut flakes
- ⅔ cup white sugar (granulated)
- 1 stick plus ⅓ stick butter, plus more for brushing on
- Cream the butter (an electric mixer is good for this).
- Beat in the sugar till the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the combined flour and coconut and mix well — but don’t expect a smooth dough.
- Empty the mixture into a greased 8 x 8 square pan.
- Brush with melted butter, or top with thin slices of butter and brush them around when they start to melt.
- Bake at 350℉ for about 25 minutes.
- Cut into squares while warm.