When I was growing up, my grandmother always kept a tin of Royal Dansk butter cookies on her kitchen counter. Whether I needed it to forget a long day at school or to simply celebrate the arrival of the weekend, the butter cookies in the blue tin made everything in life gravy.
Shortbread cookies remind me of the butter cookies from my childhood. The recipe calls for the simplest of ingredients found in every home: butter, sugar, vanilla, flour and salt. Although the cookies require a bit of technique, the result is a deliciously crumbly cookie with sweet notes of butter.
To balance the butteriness of the shortbread, I brightened half of the cookies with a fresh lime glaze and the remaining were glazed and dusted with rainbow sprinkles for color and crunch. The recipe for the shortbread cookie is adapted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller.
For the shortbread (yields two dozen 2” cookies):
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
For the lime glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
For the sprinkle glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and mix on medium speed until it’s light and fluffy. Then add the sugar, vanilla and salt. Set the speed to low and add the flour in two increments. Once the mixture is crumbly and no longer appears dry, the dough is ready for a good mix by hand to ensure that it’s thoroughly combined.
Place a large piece of plastic wrap on a surface and pour the crumbly mixture onto it. Pat the dough into a 1/2” thick rectangle, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to a 1/4” thickness. Remove and reserve the top parchment sheet. For this recipe, the cookies were shaped with a 2” cookie cutter with a fluted edge but any cookie cutter will do.
Place the reserved parchment sheet back on the dough. Slide the parchment and dough onto a baking sheet and chill for 15-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350℉. Then line a baking sheet with a non-stick baking mat or parchment paper.
Once the dough has firmed, use an offset spatula to separate the dough from the shaped cookies. The leftover dough can be rolled out again for EXTRA cookies!
Space the cookies an inch apart and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops are light golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool completely before glazing.
For the lime glaze, mix the confectioners’ sugar, lime juice and lime zest in a small bowl. Lightly dip the tops of half of the shortbread cookies in the lime glaze and allow the cookies to set on a wire rack.
To prepare the glaze for the sprinkle cookies, mix the confectioners’ sugar and water in another small bowl. Dip the tops of the remaining shortbread cookies in the icing and top with sprinkles. The glaze will set in 30 minutes or so.