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Spiced Shortbread

Recipe via Liz Prueitt & 7x7

Ingredients
1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup superfine or granulated sugar for topping
The Spice Hunter Cinnamon sticks
The Spice Hunter Cloves, whole 
The Spice Hunter Allspice, whole
The Spice Hunter Star anise, whole

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 6x10-inch glass baking dish.

Place the butter in a mixing bowl. It must be very soft—the consistency of mayonnaise or whipped cream (it can be softened in a microwave or by mixing on low speed in a metal bowl and using a kitchen torch to gently warm the sides of the bowl). Add the salt to the butter and mix well. Sift the flour and cornstarch together into another bowl. Add the granulated sugar to the butter and mix just until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix just until a smooth dough forms.

Pat the dough evenly into the prepared baking dish. The dough should be no more than 2/3 inches deep. Bake until the top and bottom are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. The middle of the shortbread should remain light. Let cool on a wire rack until warm to the touch.

Sprinkle the shortbread with the superfine sugar. Tilt the dish so that it fully and evenly coats the surface and then tip out the excess sugar. With a very thin, sharp knife cut the shortbread into rectangular fingers about 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long. If the cookies have become cold they will not slice well. Chill thoroughly before removing from the baking dish.

The first cookie is difficult to remove, but the rest should come out easily with the aid of a small, thin, offset spatula. Pack the cookies into a tin with the whole spices. Leave them for a few days to a week or more, depending on how subtle or strong you like the spice flavor. Save the spices in a jar to make mulled wine or spiced cider.

Photo credit: Patricia Chang