Pantry Basics: How to make shortbread at home

Posted on August 3, 2012 by S

cloud cookie cutter and shortbread

Sometimes, less is truly more. When I’m pressed for time but would like to be able to offer a homemade treat, I remind myself to keep things super simple. After all, a distracted mind tends to make mistakes. I’d rather be able to present a small, unembellished morsel successfully executed rather than an overambitious, spectacular flop. This shortbread recipe from Claire Clark, who was head pastry chef at The French Laundry, fits the bill perfectly. For one, I usually have the ingredients for it at hand, so there’s no need to rush about town trying to gather a bunch of exotic ingredients. The vanilla pod can easily be substituted with citrus zest, ground cinnamon or any number of other flavourings. And the recipe itself isn’t too demanding, so I can throw the shortbread together in-between working on the computer or alongside some other dish I’m preparing.

What I love best about this shortbread is that its simplicity allows the ingredients to take centre stage. And it’s delightfully adaptable. Whether you serve it mid-morning with a black tea or cappuccino to dip it into; after a fancy dinner alongside an espresso; or just before bedtime with a cold glass of milk or a steamy hot chocolate, it tastes discreetly indulgent. It’s a great cookie to travel with (just one will hit the spot).  And wouldn’t a shortbread cloud be such a whimsical turndown treat for houseguests?

The cookie cutter, which has a beautiful hand turned wood handle, is from Herriot Grace. I adore Nikole’s writing voice and her great eye for design.

About Su-Lyn Tan

Su-Lyn is Aun's better half and for many years, the secret Editor behind this blog known to readers simply as S. Su-Lyn is an obsessive cook and critical eater whose two favourite pastimes are spending time with her son and spending time in the kitchen. She looks forward to combining the two in the years to come.

What Others Are Saying

  1. Charmaine
    Charmaine August 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Tried baking these last week, followed recipe faithfully (but used a medium sized flower shaped cutter – made about 18 cookies) and cookies turned out beautifully. everyone loved them, and you’re right about just one hitting the spot (if you’re not overly greedy!) – thank you!

    • S August 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Dear Charmaine, I’m really glad the recipe worked well for you, One cloud cookie is probably equivalent to two of your flowers! I was carrying a couple of individually-wrapped ones in my handbag some weeks ago because I wanted to gift them to friends. I must confess that they smelt quite heavenly :)

  2. Lydia August 20, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Thanks for the sharing S! Made these while my twins napped for thirty minutes and they turned out fabulous! Huge hit with the extended family and can’t wait to try your suggested variations!

    • S August 20, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Dear Lydia, twins! Wow! I’m glad you managed to squeeze some shortbread baking into what I imagine must be a BUSY mommy’s schedule and that it wasn’t a waste of your time.

      I have to say that when I used the zest of one lemon (which I rubbed into the sugar before combining it with the flour) the flavour was so delicate that it was quite elusive when the cookies were baked. CH couldn’t taste the lemon at all. You might need to use more zest.

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