Shortbread is already a buttery cookie but browning the butter makes it go from good to wow. You'll know how delicious it will taste just from the aroma while you're mixing the dough. The nutty, richness of the brown butter will make your whole kitchen smell amazing before you've even begun to bake.
Because shortbread is not typically a very sweet cookie, there's plenty of room for sweet icing and sprinkles. It's also a dough that doesn't spread when baking so it's great for cookie cutter shapes. Ironically, while I was decorating these, I was watching one of those Food Network shows where really talented bakers decorate cookies so perfectly that it's almost a crime to eat them. My skill with a piping bag is far more "rustic" but sprinkles hide a multitude of sins. And I did want to make these little trees look as though they had some snow clinging to them.
A dough this buttery is on the crumbly side so I like to roll it out on parchment, cut out the shapes and just pull off the excess. That minimizes having to move the actual cookies. But, if you do need to move them, a wide spatula works fine.
Instead of plain royal icing, I added white chocolate and a bit of extra salt. It still sets up firm, like traditional icing but gives a much better taste. So, what seems like a regular holiday cookie actually packs so much more flavor between the brown butter and the white chocolate. You won't be able to stop at just one. And, much like glitter, I will probably be vacuuming sprinkles till summer. But it was worth it. Enjoy!
Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies
- 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla
- 2 Cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons salt
- 1 1/4 Cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon lite corn syrup
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla
- 2 oz. White chocolate, melted
- 1/4 Teaspoon salt
- Assorted sprinkles
- Add the butter to a large skillet on medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and, stirring often, begin to color. You'll notice it begin to foam up but that's fine. After about 5 minutes, the butter should be a light brown color. Remove from the heat and pour it into a separate dish to prevent burning. Leave it to set up until it's the same consistency as room temperature butter.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream together the butter and sugar, using a hand or stand mixer. Add in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the flour and salt.
- Roll out the dough on parchment paper or a well floured surface and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. I used a 3" tree cutter and got 18 cookies. Bake for 14 - 15 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges. Allow cool completely before icing.
- To make the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, white chocolate and salt until smooth. The mixture should be fairly thick but feel free to add water or milk by the teaspoon until you have a workable consistency.
- Add the icing to a pastry bag with a small tip. You can also use a regular plastic baggie and snip a small hole at the tip with a pair of scissors. Pipe on as little or as much of the icing as you like onto each cookie and add sprinkles. Allow to set completely.