I love to celebrate , how about you? These Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies are a perfect way to celebrate those special occasions in life. Some of them, I admit are minuscule, capturing life's tiniest victories, others are monumental milestones, events calling for major merriment; birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, reunions, weddings.
A friend's daughter is getting married next month and there's a wedding shower this weekend to prepare for the merging of two young lives into one new family. I love this tradition we have here in the U.S. of "showering" young couples with love and gifts; helping to "feather" their nests and equip them as they start a new household.
Shortbread cookies are super delicious on their own, but to make this recipe extra special, I added vanilla bean paste and finished them off with a swirl of buttercream and a shower of tiny nonpareils (decorating dots).
Wanting to incorporate the young brides' colors: turquoise and purple (so pretty!) I chose to make the cookies in wedding-white and to use cupcake papers to add a touch of vibrant festivity.
And a platter of these melt-in-your-mouth, heavenly shortbread cookies will not only make the occasion quite special, but will bring smiles of delight and oohs and aahs with every bite!
- 1 cup butter room temperature
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup corn starch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste*
- Vanilla Buttercream
- ½ cup 4 ounces butter, at room temperature
- 1 # approximately powdered sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste*
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 3-4 tablespoons half and half
Beat butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Don't over beat.
Add sugar and beat for another minute.
Add flour, cornstarch, salt and vanilla bean paste and beat just until incorporated. Again, don't over beat but make sure all dry ingredients are incorporated.
Scrap contents of bowl out onto a lightly floured work surface and form into 2 approximately equal size balls. Place each balls of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Wrap dough balls completely and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside
After 30 minutes remove one ball of dough from refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to ¼ inch thickness. Cut out dough as desired and place shapes on prepared sheet pans.
Bake at 325˚F for 14-16 minutes or until pale golden brown. Remove to cooling racks to cool completely before icing. Ice as desired with Vanilla Bean Buttercream.
For the Vanilla Bean Buttercream, place butter in the bowl of a stand mixture. Using the wire whisk attachment, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.
Reduce speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, add half and half slowly till soft and fluffy, then increase the speed to medium-high, add vanilla bean paste and mix until incorporated. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
Frost cookies as desired. To decorate cookies like in pictures, use a Wilton 2D decorating tip. Holding tip perpendicular to one of the cookies, start in center and swirl icing in a circular pattern working towards the outer edges making a complete circle around the cookie. Sprinkle with jimmies or nonpareils, if desired. Repeat with remaining cookies.
* ~ Beans from one vanilla bean pod can be substituted for vanilla bean paste. You can also use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, if desired.