There are few things easier to bake than shortbread. The basic recipe has only three ingredients and the dough is endlessly open to interpretation—two factors that make most bakers happy.
But the absolute best part about shortbread? Butter! The butter gives this classic cookie flavor and its just-so-slightly crumbly texture, which makes biting into a piece pure bliss. Butter also makes each bite melt a bit on your tongue as you munch on the cookies.
All of which means that you should really use high-quality butter when baking a cookie that relies on it so intensely. I usually opt for organic butter from a local creamery, if I can get it, since it tends to have better flavor, but good butter from a brand you trust works just fine. If you want to be super fancy, pick up a block of European butter (such as Kerrygold Irish Butter), which will take your shortbread to an entirely new level (try to catch it when it’s on sale since it’s definitely a splurge).
Sometimes we get so overcomplicated when making desserts that we lose sight of the simple joys of a classic like shortbread. We don’t need to put everything from the pantry into a batch of cookies—a little restraint can go a long way toward helping us remember the pleasure of the simpler things. (Not to get all self-helpy on you, but I truly believe this!)
Here are some fun variations on the classic shortbread that you can try:
Vanilla Bean Shortbread Sandwiches with Orange Buttercream
Striped Shortbread (which has chocolate and almond shortbread dough)