Baked Sunday Mornings: Whipped Shortbread

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Butter. Oh, butter… How I love you so. I mean, I know this goes without saying, but I can’t imagine life without the rich, magical deliciousness of butter. There is some pretty f*cked up stuff going on in the world right now, and it distresses me to no end when I think about where we are heading… so I am grateful for the little things that briefly distract from all the madness. Among these small pleasures is butter, without which these Whipped Shortbread cookies would not be possible. In the realm of buttery treats, there is little that rivals the simplicity and pureness of shortbread; nothing else that I can think of showcases butter’s qualities better. Is shortbread the most flashy or sexy or complicated dessert? Not at all. But that’s why I love this recipe: it is disarmingly easy and just plain ol’ yum.

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This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe is from the “12 Days of Cookies” section of Baked Occasions, i.e. a wonderful homage to the art form of holiday cookies! If you’ve made traditional shortbread before (the kind you have to roll out and cut), you may know that the dough can be tricky or finicky with things like butter temperature or cutting technique; attaining that perfect crisp-tender texture can be a labor of love, depending on the recipe. That’s the beauty of this particular recipe—this type of shortbread dough is whipped in a stand mixer and then dropped onto the cookie sheet, just like a chocolate chip cookie. No rolling pins, cookie cutters, or extensive chilling required! This is literally the fastest, easiest cookie dough I’ve ever made in my life.

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You’ll first whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, salt) in a bowl, which you’ll add to the whipped butter, mixing until a soft dough form. The end… seriously. The dough is uniquely soft and smooth due to the confectioners’ sugar—there are no discernible sugar granules.

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Scoop the dough with an ice cream scoop onto your cookie sheets and then carefully flatten them with the tines of a fork to create a crosshatch pattern. This is the only ever-so-slightly challenging part because the dough is sticky and wants to get stuck between the tines, but really no biggie.

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Then comes the fun part—decorating! The recipe calls for chopped pecans, but it also emphasizes that these cookies can be a blank canvas for all kinds of other toppings and flavors. So what’s a girl to do? I chose… eight. The cookies were topped with: toasted pecans, chopped Heath bars, vanilla fleur de sel, Maldon salt, smoked salt, two doughnut sugars from Doughnuttery, and toasted coconut. I didn’t want to overpower the flavor of the cookies, so I went pretty light on the toppings, but they were barely discernible. Next time I will be a little more heavy-handed! I’ll also probably add some vanilla bean seeds to the dough.

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I put the cookie sheets in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up the dough before baking the batches from 18-21 minutes—it was hard to get color on them, so I left a few in the oven longer.

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The cookie texture is very light, tender, crumbly, a little sandy—and of course super buttery! I actually liked the texture better on the second day– they were slightly crisper and less sandy. No matter when you eat them, they will absolutely melt in your mouth! My only regret other than skimpy toppings was not using Irish butter. After various failed experiments (including shortbread) over the years, I tend to use regular (i.e. cheaper) sweet cream butter when making a recipe for the first time; in the future, I would definitely use a higher-fat, cultured European butter. My favorite toppings were the Health bars and the Maldon salt, with which I’ll be more generous next time.

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I brought these to work, and let’s just say that way too many never even made it out of my office… 😉 I liked them a lot, but I still prefer the heartiness of traditional shortbread, if given a choice. However, the trade-off of minimal labor renders these cookies a super alternative! They would be lovely for a holiday cookie exchange or dessert platter. You can find the recipe for Whipped Shortbread at Baked Sunday Mornings, and check out the other bakers’ beautiful cookies too! 🙂

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2015.

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10 Responses

  1. Beautiful cookies! I also debated using European butter, but went ahead with Land o Lakes… and I have never heard of doughnut sugar and am now so intrigued! By the way, one tip for making the cross-hatch marks is to dip your fork into flour to reduce sticking.

    1. It would be interesting to do a side-by-side taste test of sweet butter vs. cultured butter! ? I bought the donut sugar at a place in Chelsea Market that makes mini donuts to order and they roll them in a variety of these sugar flavors. I figured, why not?? Thanks for the tip– I’ll have to remember for next time.

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