The holidays are a prime time to go on a baking spree. Between the cold temperatures outside and the warmth of the oven inside, it’s an ideal time to don your apron and get out the flour and sugar.
Even better? National Shortbread Day is coming up on January 6, which is yet another excuse to get baking. If you’re looking for inspiration on what kind of cookie you should bake, consider this your sign to try your hand at shortbread.
Andrea Uzarowski, the chef and owner at Boulder’s new Scandinavian-style bakery Süti & Co (2031 16th St.), graciously shared some of her top tips for making the ultimate shortbread cookies.
And she should know — she’s practically a shortbread queen! Her bakery specializes in shortbread cookies of all kinds, using her Danish family recipes that have been passed down through generations.
Here are her best pieces of advice for baking crisp, buttery shortbread at home. No matter which recipe you like to use, keep these tips in mind to achieve the most scrumptious cookies. (And if your baked goods are a total flop or you’re short on time, remember you can always head to Süti & Co to get your shortbread fix!)
Don’t Skimp on the Butter
Most shortbread recipes are fairly simple, which allows butter to play a starring role. As such, it’s important not to cheap out while buying butter for shortbread — it can and does make a difference in the final cookie.
“When you’re in the store, you can tell a high-quality butter by the label,” says Uzarowski. “Usually, any butter that describes itself as ‘European’ or ‘cultured cream’ will be a solid sign that you’ve found the good stuff.”
Get the Temperatures Right Throughout the Process
As with many types of baked goods, the temperature is important — not just during the actual baking itself, but also during other parts of the process, such as making the dough. Pay attention to your temperatures and don’t overlook how important they are to producing melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
For example, it’s vitally important that you get your sticks of butter out of the refrigerator well in advance of when you want to start mixing up the dough.
“A big mistake people can make with shortbreads is starting with cold butter in the dough,” says Uzarowski. “That will totally mess up the consistency. The butter should be room temperature when you’re mixing it in, but the dough itself should be cold before you cut it.”
After you’ve combined all your ingredients to form a dough, that’s when you want to chill everything down, she says.
“I tell people to just throw the dough in the refrigerator until it is cold to the touch,” she says. “This keeps the cookies from spreading out and losing shape in the oven.”
Adjust Your Recipe for Dry Add-Ons
If you want to get a little fancy and go beyond the standard shortbread recipe, proceed with caution. You need to make sure you balance out the wet and dry ingredients to achieve the right texture.
“When people tell me their cookies have turned out dry, my first question is usually, ‘Did you use cocoa powder?’” says Uzarowski. “When you add dry ingredients, like cocoa powder, to a basic shortbread recipe, it’s best practice to then add another ingredient that has moisture, like chocolate chunks. This will keep your cookies from getting chalky.”