Rich, buttery shortbread cookies that are simple to make and sturdy enough to be kept for days (if not weeks when chilled). There’s minimal ingredients required and no mixer! Just a bowl and spoon are needed, here.
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (170 grams or 1 1/2 sticks), melted and still warm
5 tablespoons (65 grams) granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling once baked
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil so that it hangs over the sides on two sides (this helps when it comes to removing the baked cookies from the pan).
Mix sugar, vanilla, orange zest and the salt together. When mixing, be sure to press the zest into the sugar which releases fragrant oils. Stir in the warm melted butter until the sugar is practically dissolved into the butter. Add the flour and gently mix until a dough forms and no streaks of flour remain. It will look very shiny from all the butter.
Use the tips of your fingers to press the dough into the prepared pan. Set aside at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Or, refrigerate overnight. (This gives the flour a chance to absorb moisture and flavor from the butter).
Place an oven rack in the lower third of your oven and heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Bake cookies until set and the edges are a light golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove the cookies, but keep the oven on. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar over the top of the shortbread and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Use the aluminum foil overhang to carefully remove the shortbread from the pan. Using a heavy, sharp knife, cut the shortbread into your desired shape — we like either 16 squares or 32 triangles. As you cut, the shortbread may be a little crumbly — don’t worry, just be as careful as you can when cutting. A few corners lost isn’t a big deal.
Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet lined with foil, parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool cookies on a cooling rack then store in an airtight container for up to a week at room temperature (or freeze for 2 to 3 weeks).