Driving home from work the other night, NPR was on the car radio. The story? A Tale of Two Shortbreads. Take the time to listen to the story – it is so much better than reading it! And then make some for yourself – it really is a great shortbread recipe. So, thanks to the Brass sisters for this!
The Brass Sisters’ Favorite Holiday Shortbread
Makes 32 1-inch by 2-inch pieces
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon orange extract or 1/2 teaspoon orange oil
Set oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch by 9-inch by 2-inch pan with foil. Grease the foil with butter or coat with vegetable spray.
Add flour and salt to a mixing bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add orange zest. Add orange extract or orange oil and combine. Add dry ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until completely absorbed and dough comes together. Do not overbeat or shortbread will be tough.
Gently pat dough into prepared pan. (Press down the edges with tines of fork.) Prick top of dough evenly about 20 to 25 times.
Bake shortbread 35 minutes. Cool on rack for about 20-25 minutes, or until slightly warm. Score shortbread with a knife into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces, but do not cut through entirely. When completely cool, cut into pieces along scored lines. The texture should be sandy and crumbly. Store orange shortbread in a covered tin between sheets of wax paper, at room temperature.
Shortbread will firm up as it cools. Placing shortbread in the refrigerator will help it firm up. If the shortbread is pale, continue baking another 5 minutes, watching carefully to be sure it is not browning too quickly.
Well, mine were done a bit differently. I’ve got a cold, and my stuffed up nose seems to be limiting the oxygen my old brain is getting. I dumped all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and went to town until all was crumbly, but I only used the grated orange rind, and added a teaspoon of mace. I lined a 9×9 pan with parchment paper. Everything got patted nicely into the pan and put into the oven. Oxygen deprivation stepped in again, and the shortbread wasn’t pricked, which is usually recommended to keep the cookies from bowing in the baking pan. Still, they came out okay, without any bowing. And the results are still delicious and wonderfully crumbly – but best of all, not overly sweet.