[caption id="attachment_35" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Shortbread Cookies"][/caption]
Shortbread cookies are really my favorite, and the dough can double as a sweet tart dough, making it really a useful part of your repertoire. This recipe requires two types of vanilla: Tahitian vanilla extract and Madagascar vanilla paste. If you aren't familiar with Tahitian vanilla, it's very floral and should only be used when vanilla is the predominant flavor. Vanilla paste is sugar based and uses genuine vanilla seeds for its flavor.
Vanilla Shortbread Dough
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tsp Fleur de Sel
3 egg yolks
2 tbls Tahitian vanilla extract
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 3/4 cups flour
Cream the butter, sugar, and salt until pale yellow. Add the yolks and two vanillas and mix well. Add the flour all at once and mix until just incorporated.
If making cookies, divide the dough into quarters and roll into logs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. The dough can then be wrapped in foil and frozen for up to two weeks. To make cookies, unwrap a thawed log and cut it into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Bake at 350 for 11 minutes. I generally start checking at 9 minutes and cook until they're just done.
For a tart shell, form a thick round, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Roll out to the appropriate thickness, place in a greased tart pan, and bake blind at 350 for six to eight minutes.