close your eyes and eat

brown butter cookies

The truth is, I have more to tell you about D.C.—like about the crazy-sweet frosting at Hello Cupcake, which was tall enough to catch on the tip of our noses when we bit into the cake; the breakfast crepes across from our hotel, filled with Nutella and strawberries; the Neapolitan-style pizza at 2 Amys, a restaurant more than one of you recommended and that makes some killer prosciutto and potato croquettes. But that will all have to wait, maybe for a day when you and I sit down in person instead, because right now, there are bigger things to talk about. Things like this brown butter shortbread.

I actually made these shortbread cookies in December, and as for why I haven’t posted them until now: all I can offer is a pathetic nod to the seemingly unending cookie recipes that were flowing around here at that time. It had reached the point where, one day, I had to promise myself to stop—no more cookies!—in an effort to keep from being the Blogger Who Only Talks About One Thing, ever. Then again, now that I’m looking back, would that have been so bad?

There is a comfort in familiarity, which is probably why I’ve been craving cookies so much lately. When you’ve fought the world, so to speak, whether at your office, with your kids or on the highway—it’s nice to come home, take a warm bite of sweetness in your hands, close your eyes and eat.

brown butter shortbread cookies

This recipe comes from Lottie + Doof and offers a crumbly, nubbly texture with flecks of sea salt on top. Its flavor, sweet and nutty, is the kind that has you reaching for one piece after another, after another—and, believe me, I did.

Plus, while I wouldn’t say good looks are a requirement for comfort food, they’re certainly not a drawback—and these cookies are pretty. You might want to make them for someone you really like. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time letting them go. Please trust me on this.

brown butter cookies

One more thing: subscribing! In the recent survey, a number of you indicated that you weren’t sure how to subscribe to Food Loves Writing. It really couldn’t be simpler, and I’m going to show you: go over to subscribe page and either (a) enter your e-mail to receive a note in your inbox when something new gets posted or (b) copy the link for an RSS feed here and insert it into your Google Reader or Bloglines account (or whatever RSS reader you use). If you want to know more about RSS and how it works, click here.

Brown Butter Shortbread
Adapted from Lottie + Doof

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Granulated, Demerara, or Turbinado sugar for sprinkling (I used sugar in the raw)

Lightly grease either a fluted tart pan (with a removable bottom) or an 8-inch square pan (lined with aluminum foil that hangs over the sides for easy removal).

Brown butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it turns a darker, caramel color and emits a warm, nutty smell. Be careful not to let it burn—you’re looking for deeper color, but it should not get blackish or smell burned at all. Once it’s reached the right consistency, remove it from heat.

Combine the melted butter with sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour and mix until combined. Spread dough in prepared pan, and let it stand for two hours or even overnight.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Bake the shortbread for 45 minutes; afterwards, remove the pan from the oven but leave the oven on. Lightly sprinkle the surface of the shortbread with the sugar, and let it cool for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the sides of the tart pan or lift the shortbread out by the extended aluminum foil. Using a very sharp knife, cut the shortbread into 12 triangular wedges. Place these wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment (or a Silpat). Return to the oven and toast for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.


  1. Donna Azure says

    You are the best, Shanna!! I love your posts, LOVE shortbread and love the Judith Jones book that you recommended!! Thanks for inspiring me everytime I check you out. I would totally love to sit down over a cup of tea, with Kelley joining us and just chat and chat!! Maybe that will happen someday. Until then I am glad for computers!! Have a super weekend!! By the by..I am reading “The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society” and am greatly enjoying it. I told Kelley about it and think you would like it, too!! Thanks again!!!

  2. says

    What pretty shortbread! I only just found your blog and I love your photography… I’ll keep looking around your site, everything looks delicious! :)

  3. Sue says

    I need to stop reading your posts right when I don’t need to eat!!! Yum. I love shortbread!

  4. says

    Donna – You are so sweet. I’m thinking that since I am between you and Kelley, the best plan is for us all to meet in Chicago. Any time! BTW I don’t think I’m the one who told you about the Judith Jones book, but I’m interested in it now!

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