This is one of those times you look at an ingredient list and you think to yourself, there is absolutely no way this could taste bad. Butter? check. Sugar? check. Vanilla extract? Salted cocktail nuts?? CHECK. I tore this magically simple recipe out of a Gourmet Magazine in 2006 (sigh. moment of reverent silence for the now defunct magazine that gave me some of my most favorite recipes. My heart sinks a little bit when I think that I will never read "the last touch" page again).
Reasons I love this recipe:
Prep = chopping some cocktail nuts.
No fancy equipment (I'm looking at you, stand mixer).
Low maintenance. Just bake for 20 mins (I'm looking at you, biscotti).
You're required to use your hands.
Now without further ado, and with a flourishing bow to the forever beloved Gourmet Magazine, I present to you, this buttery, butterscotchy, salty, nutty, crumbly cookie, perfectly designed for a cup of tea (or nibble any time of day as I have quickly learned since baking them last night)...
Active time: 15 minutes; Start to Finish: 45 minutes
Things you probably have to buy are in bold:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup salted and roasted mixed cocktail nuts, coarsely chopped
1. Put oven rack in middle position and pre-heat to 375 Fahrenheit.
2. Stir together butter and 1/3 cup of sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until combined well.
3. Stir in vanilla and flour, and mix with your hands, just until the dough forms.
4. Transfer dough to a lightly greased baking sheet and spread evenly with your fingers to form an 8-inch square.*
5. Sprinkle nuts evenly over dough, pressing down to help them adhere.
6. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon sugar over nuts and bake until the shortbread is deep golden: 20-25 minutes.
7. Cool on baking sheet on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into 18 (roughly 3-by-1-1/2 inch bars).**
*Alternatively, you can spray cooking spray on a baking sheet and cover with parchment paper. This will make clean-up time easier. You need the cooking spray so the parchment paper won't slide all over the place when you press the dough.
**I went to the gym while the dough cooled. When I came back 40 minutes later, it had totally cooled so when I cut it, it broke into pieces instead of nice rectangles. I thought it was nice and rustic looking, but if you want rectangles, it's probably best to cut it while it's still a little warm.
Embarrassing but True: I used a tape measure to get a perfect 8x8' square...
Delicious Topping Options: Dip half the bar in melted semi-sweet chocolate (or smear on with a knife), rest on parchment paper and refrigerate to harden. Top with cranberries, craisins, or fruit as desired.