The Last Shortbread Recipe You’ll Ever Need
simply the greatest shortbread I’ve ever tasted
There are a few recipes every good home cook should have in his arsenal. Shortbread is one of them. It’s infinitely adaptable–try adding a few fragrant lavender buds or thyme for a sophisticated hostess gift. A shower of sprinkles over top, and you’ll have a cookie that will delight the finickiest of toddlers. And of course, a bit of lemon zest or a quick dip in ganache is always a crowd-pleasing classic. However way you slice it, shortbread might just be the easiest, most versatile cookie you can make.
Last summer, when my husband and I took a quick trip to Chicago, we enjoyed a meal at Mado. (Click here to see our photos from the meal.) When we spooned up the last bite of porchetta and looked over the dessert menu, two Chicagoans we’d been chatting with throughout our meal steered me towards the shortbread.
“I know what you’re thinking–it’s shortbread. But you’ve gotta trust me,” she said.
And I did. What came was unlike any shortbread I’d ever eaten–so delicate, so crumbly, the first piece broke it half as I lifted it off the plate. The cookie dissolved on my tongue, leaving just the pure, sweet finish of good butter.
tender, buttery shortbread
It was apparent to me, given the uncommonly tender texture, that there was a good amount of cornstarch or rice flour in the recipe. Yet, as much as I wanted the secret to this shortbread, I feel too embarrassed to ask for restaurant recipes. (I’m sure restaurants painstakingly develop their recipes to profit from, not to give away–though I do know some restaurants are very generous and will give you a recipe if you ask for it.) For the past year, I’ve thought about the Mado shortbread often, but for whatever reason, never tried to recreate it at home. I thought it a treat to be savored the next time we were in Chicago.
a second batch of shortbread made with vanilla and a little cardamom
But yesterday, a new neighbor (a recent Chicago transplant), sent me an email with a link to the Mado shortbread recipe, published in Time Out Chicago. I had mentioned earlier in the day how incredible that cookie was. I didn’t know a published recipe existed.
After reading the recipe, I made a few minor adjustments–a little more salt, a little more cornstarch, and a lower baking temperature so the shortbread remains as pristine white as I remember it being at the restaurant. I’ve also scaled the recipe down slightly so it uses one pound of butter, as opposed to the 39 tablespoons the original recipe calls for.
Enjoy–a warning: these are incredibly addictive!
Ultra-Tender Shortbread, inspired by Mado’s delicious shortbread recipe1 lb. unsalted butter, softened until it resembles clotted cream 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 2/3 cup granulated sugar (plus about 1/4 cup more sugar for sprinkling) 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup + 3 tbsp cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment, and grease generously with butter or oil.
In a stand-mixer, combine the softened butter, salt, and sugar. Whip on medium speed for 5-6 minutes, until the butter becomes pale and white, and increases in volume. On low-speed, mix in the flour and cornstarch.
Pat the dough evenly into the sheet pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the edges just begin to color. (The shortbread itself should remain white in color.)Refrigerate the pan of shortbread for an hour until cool. Slice into squares and serve.
Posted: April 7th, 2010 under Uncategorized.