Bouchon’s Shortbread Cookie

Bouchon’s Shortbread  Cookie

This month’s Food52 Baking Club pick is Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery Book. A gorgeous, very heavy (a workout just lugging it around) opus on all things delicious. My copy has languished on a shelf for quite some time but this gave me a reason to take it off the shelf and dive in.  Let the baking games begin.

I decided to start with a cookie recipe. Afterall, I still need to complete my holiday cookie list (wow, that’s embarrassing). I open the book and what do you know, the first chapter of the book is all about cookies. Fate. I peruse the chapter and settle on, drum roll, please……..Bouchon’s SHORTBREAD cookie. Surprised? Didn’t think so.

This is a tall order as I believe I already make the perfect shortbread.  A recipe saved from the long out of print Cuisine magazine has become a non-negotiable tradition in our home during the holidays. The recipe was accompanied by the story of the author’s father making shortbread each Christmas.  An homage to her father and to traditional Scottish shortbread.  Crisp at first bite, meltingly tender, slightly sweet, and oh so buttery.  The perfect cookie.

Yep, tall order.

The trial:

I used a European butter for it’s higher fat content after reading several comments that the dough was dry and crumbly. With a little kneading (in a Ziploc bag), it came together nicely.

The book calls for shaping the dough into a 5×5 inch block and chilling it before rolling it out.  I opted to roll the dough into the final 9-inch square before chilling as the dough was easier to work with at that stage.  After chilling the dough, cut it into 2-1/4  x 1-1/2 inch pieces.

I used a pizza cutter and ruler to cut the dough, you could get fancy and use cute cookie cutters instead.  Though the recipe calls for granulated sugar, I used sanding sugar which gave the cookies a nice sparkle. Sugar bling.

The verdict:

Buttery? Yes. Crisp? Yes. Sweet? Yes.The dusting of sugar adds sweetness and a delightful crunch.  Better than the shortbread I already make? No, but I am biased.  I might try this with salted butter to see if it adds even more depth of flavor. These cookies are simple and sophisticated. Totally worth making a batch to enjoy with a cool glass of milk or a hot cup of tea depending on your mood! *The flavor improved, this was a better cookie a day later than right after baking.  

The Path of Least Resistance TK Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 180 grams (6.3 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 90 grams (1/2 C) granulated sugar
  • 2 grams (5/8 tsp-3/4 tsp) Kosher salt
  • 5.9 grams (1 tsp) vanilla bean paste
  • 270 grams (1 3/4 C plus 3 T) all purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 T sanding sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter with the paddle attachment on medium low speed until smooth. Add sugar and salt and mix on medium low for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds.
  • Add half of the flour, and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Repeat with the second half of the flour.
  • Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter, and mound the dough on top of it. Form the dough into a 5 inch by 5 inch block. Wrap it with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
  • or
  • Roll dough into 9 inch square in between parchment, or in a Ziploc bag. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
  • Roll the dough out to a 9 inch by 9 inch square between two pieces of wax or parchment paper. You may have to pound it a bit with your rolling pin to get it to roll out. If it gets too soft, you can put it back into the refrigerator to firm up.
  • When ready to bake, place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • With a sharp knife, and using a ruler, score the dough into four 2 1/4 inch wide horizontal strips. Next, score the dough into six 1 1/2 inch vertical strips. Sprinkle the dough with sanding sugar or granulated sugar.
  • Cut the dough along the scoring into 24 individual rectangles. Place the rectangles about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet.
  • Place the sheet in the oven, and bake, using convection, for 13 to 15 minutes, or if not using convection, for 17 to 19 minutes.
  • Cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, and then move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.
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