This one-bowl, no-mixer, Ridiculously Easy Brown Sugar Shortbread takes minutes to put together. The dough is pressed into a pan so there’s no scooping, rolling or cutting. Oh yes – and all the taste-testers say it’s ridiculously delicious!
Shortbread has to be one of the simplest and, at the same time, most delicious confections ever created. With a super short, super basic pantry ingredient list, it’s a very beloved treat worldwide. Substitute a scoop of brown sugar in lieu of the classic granulated sugar and you end up with this super easy brown sugar shortbread, a delightfully crisp, buttery treat with heavenly caramel and toffee undertones.
This easy brown sugar shortbread is one of those recipes that’s perfect to make in a pinch. There are no unusual ingredients, just a few stapes that you probably always have in your pantry: flour, brown sugar, butter and vanilla. It makes a wonderful treat with a cup of coffee or tea, a delightful gift for neighbors, friends, teachers… and the best dessert (ever!) paired with a dish of vanilla ice cream (if you wanted to splurge, you could add a drizzle of this Real Deal Microwave Caramel Sauce).
Stir this easy brown sugar shortbread up in minutes!
Although we took pictures of this shortbread earlier this week, I like to make each recipe I share one last time right before I write about it. So last night, while Scott and I were watching a movie, I whipped up a batch of this shortbread. Within minutes I was back at his side on the couch. As long as you’ve thought ahead a bit and allowed the butter to soften (or use can use one of the methods listed below to soften butter quickly), you can throw together the dough for this recipe in the blink of an eye. Then all you have to do is sit back and finish the movie (or whatever else you want to do) and wait for the delicious aromas to waft through the house.
What are the steps? I knew you’d want to know:
- Preheat the oven. Grease and line a tart pan or a cake pan with parchment paper.
- Combine the softened butter and vanilla and stir until nice and creamy.
- Add the brown sugar and stir again until well combined.
- Add the flour and salt and stir just until the flour disappears.
- Dump the mixture into the prepared pan, then use your hands to press the dough into the bottom
- Poke the dough with a fork and sprinkle with sugar and sea salt (optional).
- Bake, cut into wedges, cool and ENJOY!
See what I mean? Easy. Ridiculously easy! Perhaps I should say dangerously easy!
For those of you who are new to The Café, Ridiculously Easy is actually a category of recipes. We have quite a few of them (you can see many of them in the little images that scroll across the top of this page) but a recipe has to have certain criteria to fall into this select league. If you’re interested, you can read more about our Ridiculously Easy recipes in this post. In a nutshell, these recipes make you look like a rockstar in the kitchen with minimal effort. Win, win!
A lovely gift!
I love to bag this brown sugar shortbread up, tie it with a pretty bow and slip it into neighbors and friends mailboxes. Just leave a little text saying “Brown Sugar Shortbread in your mailbox”. You probably won’t get far before you hear footsteps coming to retrieve the delectable treats!
Café Tips for making this Ridiculously Easy Brown Sugar Shortbread
- Because this is a one-bowl, no-mixer recipe, make sure that your butter is nice and soft. You should be able to push your finger into the butter easily without any resistance. That can be a little tricky, especially during the colder months. Here are a few tricks:
- You can soften the butter in the microwave on power level 10%. It works like magic. You’ll need to experiment a bit with your microwave though, as they’re all different. Start with 1 minute. Add 20 to 30-second increments until you learn how long your microwave will take to get the butter nice and soft, but not melted.
- Another technique I often use to soften butter is to put it in the microwave for a few hours with the light on. To keep the light on in the microwave I put a folded paper towel in the door.
- Boil a cup of water in the microwave for 3-4 minutes and get things nice and steamy. Leave the water cup in the microwave, add the butter and close the door. The warmth from the steamy water will help to quickly soften the butter. Sometimes I will even put a kitchen towel or several thicknesses of paper towels in the door so it won’t completely close and the light will remain on. The warmth from the light will also help soften the butter.
- Cutting the butter into small pieces helps it soften quicker.
- Place the hard butter on a small plate. Fill a bowl with hot water. Wait 5 minutes then discard the water. Put the warm bowl over the butter.
- Put the butter in the oven with the light turned on. This will take a few hours.
- The fastest way to soften butter is to put cold butter in the microwave for 10 seconds. Turn it to the opposite side and microwave for another 10 seconds. It might be ready at this point, but if it’s not completely soft, add one or two more 5-second stints.
- I use light brown sugar for this recipe, but you could also use dark brown sugar. The shortbread will be a tad darker in color.
- Use a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon to stir this dough. It’s a stiff crumbly dough until you get it pressed into the pan.
- This recipe calls for Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on the top before baking. You could also use raw sugar or Demarara sugar. If you don’t have any of these it will still be delicious with granulated sugar. Reduce the amount to 1 tablespoon, if using granulated sugar.
- I sent some of this Brown Sugar Shortbread to a neighbor. Half of the bag had sea salt sprinkled on the top, in addition to the sugar. They LOVED the addition of the sea salt.
- If using sea salt, try to find a flaky sea salt. I love Maldon. It is made to be a “finishing salt”, perfect for recipes like this one. Just take a pinch of it between your fingers and rub your fingers together to crush the flakes a bit.
- I love to decorate food with edible flowers. In this recipe, they’re more for presentation than for eating but they add a really fun and fancy touch that just takes a few extra minutes. Pansies are probably the most common edible flower that’s in bloom right now, but here’s a list from Southern Living of other fun and pretty edible flowers.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
This one-bowl, no-mixer, Ridiculously Easy Brown Sugar Shortbread takes minutes to put together. The dough is pressed into a pan, so there's no scooping, rolling or cutting. Oh yeah, and all the taste-testers also say it's ridiculously delicious!
- 4 ounces very soft butter (1 stick)
- 6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
Place an oven rack in the middle position in your oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom (or a 9-inch cake pan) with baking spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
In a medium-large bowl, stir the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla and stir again until smooth and creamy.
Add the flour and stir until just combined and all the flour disappears and the mixture starts to form into a ball.
Press the dough into the bottom of the tart (or cake) pan. If your fingers are sticking to the dough just dip them in some flour from time to time. Using a fork, poke the dough randomly several times. (this will keep it from puffing up)
Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar (and flaky sea salt, if desired).
Bake for another 7-12 minutes longer or until deep golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and invert the shortbread onto a dinner size plate. Invert again onto a cutting board so the sugared side is up and cut into wedges while hot (a pizza cutter works great for this). Transfer the wedges to a cooling rack.
Hide a couple of wedges for yourself in a secret place because once the rest of the family discovers them, they will disappear before you can blink your eyes!
See Café Tips above in the post for further instructions and tips.
Recipe adapted from One-Bowl Baking.
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