In late October, I bought Bath and Body Work’s Vanilla Bean Noel lotion. I managed to wait until November 3 to start using it. I use it every time I wash my hands, so I smell sugar cookies all the time. I didn’t really have the time to find a sugar cookie recipe to make – there are so many of them! – but I decided that a vanilla shortbread might be a good runner up.
I chose the Vanilla Bean Shortbread recipe because it was the easiest of the recipes I came across in a brief search. It involved no chilling and no rolling out. It’s a Cooking Light recipe, and it took both butter and oil, which is a bit unusual. You mix together 9 ounces flour (it said about 2 cups, but this was 1.75 cups by my measurements), 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Separately, you beat butter for 2 minutes until fluffy; mix in oil for 3 minutes until well blended; and add sugar and seeds from a vanilla bean. Mix in flour mixture until just blended, then pat into a 9×13 inch, greased and foiled pan. Lay plastic wrap on top of the dough and smooth dough out toward edges, patting dough into an even layer. I baked these 29 minutes, until the edges were turning light brown. The recipe called for 30 full minutes, but I generally like my shortbread a touch underdone.
I cooled the shortbread for 5 minutes, then cut it into 32 squares. I pulled the foil from the pan and cooled the cookies on a wire rack.
These cookies were amazing. Most shortbread I’ve had has been dense, but not these. They were very light, tender, and crisp. I took them to work and everyone seemed to love them. Alex was the rare exception; he would rather have regular cookies than have these shortbread. That was fine with me – it meant that I got to eat all the cookies I had saved for him. The shortbread cookies that I had kept aside were still really good a few days later. The vanilla bean shortbread weren’t particularly vanilla-y, but that could be because my vanilla beans were a little old, and are of a different variety (less strong, more aromatic) of vanilla. I might just add a teaspoon of vanilla extract next time instead of the vanilla bean, although the specks of vanilla seeds were very pretty. This recipe was incredibly easy. I know I’ll make it again.