S is for Shortbread

I have never thought of myself as much of a baker, but since I received my KitchenAid last year I have been baking, a lot. Over the past week I have tried out 2 Shortbread recipes, both I found through searching Tastespotting. First was Salted Chocolate Shortbread and next was Vanilla Bean and Bourbon Shortbread.
Both were good, however, I didn’t get very much bourbon flavor in the Vanilla Bourbon, but this cookie had the more traditional shortbread texture.

Salted Chocolate Shortbread (Kitchen Grrrls)

¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened or dark cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together the flour ( I sifted the flour and cocoa) cocoa and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside.
Beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
With the mixer off, add the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on and off low speed (pulse) for a second or two about 5 times so that the flour mixture gets incorporated. Then mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, just until the flour disappears into the dough (the dough will look crumbly).
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in two. Shape each half into a 9-inch log. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you don’t need to defrost before baking – just slice the logs into cookies and baking the cookies 1 minute longer.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are ½-inch thick. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them. Sprinkle a small amount of extra salt on top of each round.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes – they won’t look done, and won’t be firm, but that’s how they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

**** I found the dough to be very crumbly, I am not sure if I didn’t beat the butter long enough. Also, I think I will try forming the dough into a disk next time and using a cutter ****

Vanilla Bean and Bourbon Shortbread 
(The Shoebox Kitchen )

3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (measured using the spoon and level method)
**** lightly fill the measuring cup with a separate scoop or spoon. Level off the flour with the back of a knife, making it flush with the top edge of the cup. Do not tamp down the flour.****
1/4 teaspoon salt
 3 sticks unsalted butter, near room temperature 
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
**** I used Makers Mark, but any good quality bourbon will work****

Sift together the flour and salt and set aside. Cut the three sticks of butter into half-cubes.  Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape, add to the butter and sugar mixture.
Next add the vanilla extract and the bourbon.
With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour/salt mixture until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and the dough comes together cleanly off the sides of the mixing bowl
**** since  I use a KitchenAid, I find sifting my dry ingredients onto a flexible mat  less messy than spooning  ***

Shape the dough into a ball, then flatten into a disc.  Wrap the disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about two hours.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees at least 25 minutes before cutting your cookies.  Remove the refrigerated dough, roll out to a thickness of about 1/2″, and cut cookies using your favorite cookie cutter.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake just until the tops start to brown just slightly, about 25 minutes

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