Recipe Review

This Buttery Shortbread Has a Unique Baking Technique That Makes It Extra-Toasty

published Dec 19, 2022
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Alice Medrich's shortbread shown on a surface and baking pan
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen; headshot: Courtesy of Workman-Publishing

As I searched for shortbread recipes to pit against each other for this recipe showdown, this unique take from Alice Medrich, spotlighted on Smitten Kitchen, caught my eye. It required three things no others did: It used melted butter (not softened), it called for you to rest the dough for at least two hours before baking, and it instructed you to bake the cookies twice. Would these particular touches create the ultimate shortbread cookie? There was only one way to find out.

How to Make Alice Medrich’s Twice-Baked Shortbread

This shortbread dough was the easiest to make, requiring nothing more than a bowl and a spatula. Because the recipe uses melted butter, there’s no need to get out the electric mixer — you simply combine melted unsalted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and table salt, then stir in the all-purpose flour. Then spread the dough into your pan of choice. The recipe gives you the option of a greased 9 1/2-inch round or 4×14-inch rectangular removable bottom tart pan, or a foil-lined 8-inch square pan — I used the last option. Pat the dough evenly into the pan and let it rest at room temperature for at least two hours or up to overnight. I let my dough rest for 4 hours.

After it rests, you bake the dough at 300°F for 40 to 45 minutes, just until it starts to color at the edges. At that point, you remove it from the oven (leaving the oven on), sprinkle it with a little coarse sugar, and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the shortbread from the pan, cut it into wedges or fingers (depending on the shape of pan you used), place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake them for 15 minutes. 

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

My Honest Review of Alice Medrich’s Twice-Baked Shortbread

I loved how easy the dough was to prepare, with its stir-together ease. The dough was almost like a very thick blondie batter, so it was easy to spread into an even layer in the pan. The resting period was the hardest part, simply because I was anxious to bake and taste the cookies. The shortbread was rich and buttery, with a slightly toasty flavor from the second bake. They were fairly hefty, measuring a half-inch thick. Between the double baking and the coarse sugar on top, the texture was more crunchy than crisp (and for shortbread, I want the latter). That’s my only issue with this recipe. The cookies are delicious, but feel a bit too hearty in texture.

If You’re Making Alice Medrich’s Twice-Baked Shortbread, a Few Tips

  1. Weigh your ingredients. The recipe offers both volume measurements and weights (in ounces and grams) for most of the ingredients. Measuring by weight — especially grams —will be more precise. 
  2. Cut the shortbread while it’s hot. Between the first and second bakes, the dough cools in the pan for 10 minutes, and then you remove it to a cutting board to cut it. Make sure to do so quickly, as it’s easier to cut while it’s hot; if it’s too cool, it tends to crumble.
  3. Let the cookies cool. Unlike other types of cookies (chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin come to mind) that taste fantastic warm from the oven, these cookies achieve their best texture and flavor when they’re fully cooled.

Overall rating: 8/10