Monday, October 5, 2009

brown butter brown sugar shortbread cookies

Oh. My. Heavens.

Can I even tell you how much I love these cookies? They aren’t much to look at. But, and a very big but, you have got to try these.

If you remember from a few posts back, I am not a crunchy, crispy, crumbly cookie gal. This includes shortbread. A little too tender and bland for my taste. I like my chewy cookies, the insides of the brownies, and raw cake batter. But these? These are so packed with flavor that they are really the complete opposite of “bland.” Every one of the very few ingredients, (okay, except maybe the flour) is another layer of flavor. You know how much you love brown butter sauce over pasta? Think of that nuttiness, mixed with dark brown sugar and then rolled in raw sugar? Hello? Aren’t you listening? Go get these ingredients and make them!

These would be fantastic as Christmas gifts and, to my credit, I did bookmark this recipe for the holiday season but I couldn’t wait that long. They were calling to me. So, I waited until Fall. The very beginning of Fall.

Close enough, right? :)

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

Makes ? Haha, honestly, I forgot to count! Plus, I ate quite a bit of the dough. I would guess about 20 cookies.

Dough keeps, chilled, up to 1 week, or in the freezer, up to one month. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

1 ½ sticks butter
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon really good vanilla
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon flaky salt
Demerara sugar (Sugar in the Raw) or sanding sugar for rolling (optional)

Cut butter into four or five pieces and cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it has a nutty fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn a light brown, anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes. It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Transfer butter to a bowl and chill until just firm, about 1 hour.

Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then mix in flour and salt at low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment and form into a 12-inch log, 1 ½ inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350° with rack in middle. Unwrap dough and roll it in coarse sugar, if using, and press the granules in with the paper you’d be using to wrap it. Slice dough into ¼ inch-thick rounds, arranging 1 ½ inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake until surface is dry and edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes. Let sit on sheet for a minute before transferring to a rack to cool. (Cookies will quite fragile at first, but will firm up as they cool.)


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