These delicious Spring Shortbread Cookies are crisp, sweet and buttery. And there's a simple decorating technique that's fun to do with kids!
I love the versatility of shortbread and these Spring Shortbread Cookies are one more example of the myriad of ways this simple dough can be used. With Easter right around the corner and vibrant spring exploding all around, they're also a beautiful, delicious way to celebrate the season.
Scott and I are spending ten days in Austin, Texas. A 3-day blog conference brought us here, but we decided to extend our trip and are spending those extra days exploring (and eating through!) this fun and vibrant city. We've seen spring literally burst while we're here and have enjoyed lots of gorgeous walks along the Colorado River that winds its way like a silver-blue ribbon through the heart of Austin.
I thought it might be fun, for those of you from other parts of the country, to see what spring looks like in Austin. Here are a few pictures that Scott captured during our first few days in this delightful city of one million.
And speaking of spring, these Spring Shortbread Cookies are a perfect way to herald the arrival of the lovely season.
The cookie recipe requires one-bowl, no-mixer and the icing technique is as easy as decorating cookies can be. A simple dip into a 3-ingredient icing along with a dusting of sprinkles is all it takes.
If these Spring Shortbread Cookies look vaguely familiar, they're modeled after my Christmas Shortbread Cookies that were super popular over the holiday season. The new recipe uses the same easy dipping technique with a sprinkle topping.
How to keep cookies from spreading in the oven
It's always disappointing when you take the time to make cutout cookies and they spread in the oven and become almost unrecognizable. This recipe is a winner in that the cookies will keep their shape after being baked. There are a few secrets to crisp edge cookies. First, a small portion of the flour is replaced with corn starch. A quarter cup, in this case, makes all the difference in the world. The second secret is to chill the cutout cookies before baking for at least an hour. It's fine to chill them longer, even overnight. These easy little tips will yield crisp clean edges and perfectly shaped cookies.
Change out the shape, color, sprinkles, etc.
I used an egg-shaped cookie cutter for my cookies, but a circle or flower-shaped cutter would be pretty too. And while I'll be serving them for Easter, they'd also be perfect for a spring shower, Mother's Day celebration or graduation party. Just change the icing color and sprinkles to match your occasion!
Café Tips for making these Spring Shortbread Cookies
- This dough does not have to be chilled before rolling, but be sure to allow time to chill the cut-out dough before baking.
- These cookies don't require a mixer and can be mixed up in minutes. The only secret is to make sure the butter is very soft. You can achieve this by allowing it to sit at room temperature for several hours. If it's still somewhat firm, a brief stint in the microwave will work wonders. Use the lowest possible power setting (10%) and start with 30 seconds. Every microwave is different and it could take as long as 3-4 minutes to soften a cold stick of butter.
- Don't roll these Spring Shortbread Cookies too thin or they'll be difficult to dip into the glaze when decorating. I roll mine to a ⅜-inch thickness. You might be better at rolling dough to an even thickness than I am. I'm pretty miserable at it with one side thick and the other too thin. This reasonably priced rolling pin is a super-easy way to achieve the same perfect thickness in all your cookies. It has 1/16, ⅙, ¼, and ⅜-inch removable bands, making it easy to roll your dough to a uniform thickness. (The rolling pin would also make a wonderful gift for any bakers you know!)
- A few tips on rolling and cutting out cookies:
- Keep your work surface and rolling pin lightly dusted with flour.
- I like to also rub the cutting edge of my cookie cutter in a little flour in between each cookie.
- Press fairly firmly when cutting out the cookies, but don't twist the cookie cutter as the shape will get distorted.
- I like to use a thin-bladed metal spatula to transfer the cookies from my work surface to the pan.
- If you don't have room in your refrigerator to chill the cookies on two sheet pans, just transfer all of them to one pan after cutting. Then later, once they're chilled, you can divide them between the two pans for baking.
- When re-rolling the scraps, incorporate as little flour on the work surface as possible.
- Occasionally some of the cookies will be slightly puffed on the top when removed from the oven. You can give them a nice flat top by pushing on the top gently with a metal spatula.
- Use any type of sprinkles you like for these Spring Shortbread Cookies. I really like the tiny round balls called nonpareils. For these cookies, I mixed pastel nonpareils with jimmies and flower sprinkles. Have fun mixing and matching!
- In addition to online, I find pretty sprinkles at Homegoods and TJMaxx. Walmart also usually has a nice seasonal collection, as well as the big box craft stores.
- Switch out the flavoring in the glaze to lemon, mint, almond, etc. Just substitute any flavor of pure extract for the vanilla in this recipe.
These easy Spring Shortbread Cookies are crisp, buttery, delicious and have a simple decorating technique that's fun to do with kids!
- 8 ounces very soft butter 2 sticks
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup corn starch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoons half and half or milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place very soft butter in a medium-size mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula until nice and smooth. Add sugar and vanilla. Mix together by hand for about 30 seconds, until fluffy and well blended.
Add the flour, cornstarch and salt. Stir until flour is completely incorporated. The dough will look a little shaggy. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press dough in a ball. Knead a few times until fairly smooth then form into a ball again and press with your hands into a flat disk.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a ⅜-inch thickness. Keep work surface, dough and rolling pin lightly dusted with flour. Cut desired shapes and place on prepared pans. Re-roll scraps as many times as needed to use up the dough.
Place cutouts in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375˚F. Remove cookies from refrigerator and bake for 12-14 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden at the edges. Rotate pans halfway through for even browning. Cool completely before icing.
For the glaze, combine powdered sugar, half and half and vanilla extract in a medium-size bowl. Mix until smooth. The glaze should be thick, but pourable. Add a little more half and half if too thick. Add a drop or two of food color if desired and stir well. Transfer the glaze to a shallow bowl.
To glaze the cookies, hold onto the edges of a cookie and dip the top surface into the glaze, being sure the entire surface of the cookie touches the glaze. Pull cookie up and out of the glaze. Allow excess glaze to drip back into the bowl. When glaze stops dripping, quickly flip the cookie right side up and give it a gentle jiggle to allow the glaze to flow evenly over the surface then sprinkle with jimmies, nonpareils, sprinkles, etc. Repeat with remaining cookies. Allow glaze to dry for at least 30 minutes.
See Café Tips above for lots of extra tips and instructions.
Recipe makes 18-20 3-inch cookies.
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