French Laundry Shortbread

June 29, 2009

Glorious cookie! Simple, though no simpleton, the shortbread cookie speaks to its brevity in ingredients. The list is short. I can them on my hand, save a wiley digit. Butter, sugar, flour, vanilla bean, salt - optional.

True to life, I am procrastinating on my wedding cake posting to focus on yet another distraction cookies - a sometimes food. I got this recipe from the French Laundry, so if you doubted its street cred, there you go. In the gamut of shortbreads, this one of the most edited. Truly. It is a blank stage on which butter and vanilla bean dance unfettered.

I altered this shortbread recipe so they weren't golden and robust like a star athlete. Rather, they were pale, much like that kid with porcelain skin, whose mom made him wear a bonnet all through school, kindergarten to eighth grade.

I love making these cookies because of their aromatic bouquet. I sincerely advise you to pony up the cash for a good vanilla bean. Once split open, these beans will tickle your beak. Admittedly, I love these cookies a little less now that I have had to make 400 of them for my sister's wedding.

I filed them like records into brown parchment mini loaf pans and finished them off with some ribbon and a button. How fortuitous was it to chance upon someone's sewing kit full of buttons! What a time to take up sewing-- 12 hours before the wedding, halfway through a wedding cake!

French Laundry Shortbread (15 cookies, 1.5"x3.5") - 50 minutes

8 ounces all-purpose flour
2 3/4 ounces superfine sugar
1 vanilla pod
5 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
Coarse salt (kosher, Himalayan rock, etc)

FYI For all you baking Luddites, epicurious posted a converted volume one here.

Preheat to 350F
1. Sift flour and sugar together into a large bowl.

2. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. With the back of a knife, scrape out every last seed.

3. Add vanilla seeds and softened butter to the flour mixture and start incorporate with your fingers. Rub the flour into the butter until incorporated. The mixture should looks like moist beads. Smash together into a ball. Don't overwork it.

4. On a very light floured countertop roll the dough out to 1/2 thick. Cut into whatever shape you like. I recommend these longer rectangles. Place on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart.

5. Crumble the coarse salt on top of the cookies. !! Remember, that the salt is salty. Don't go tossing it on as if you fixing to roast a chicken!!

6. Bake for 15 minutes. At this point the cookies will be just set and pale white. You care for the golden look, rotate the pan and cook for 10 minutes longer.

Got it? OK, no go make 400 of them...

On another note, sesame street has changed its decade long cookie monster tune in the fight against obesity and Type 2 diabetes onset. As it stands, cookies are now a sometimes food.


Lisa Rose said...

yay! you made them. sounds like they fit the bill.

Jacky said...

They were amazing!!! yum yum.

Juliana said...

Wow, nice looking shortbread...yummie!

Elra said...

Gorgeous cake Katie. I still haven't tried to make shortbread yet. This recipe sounds really good.

Jude said...

I've ways wondered how you can incorporate vanilla beans into shortbread. Very useful technique you got here.

we are never full said...

awesome. ahhhh the french laundry - i can still close my eyes and be there. now that i think about it - those shortbreads were fabu. and it's gotta be b/c they use REAL vanilla. not any of that extract crap! nice one.

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