While you can never go wrong with a batch of chocolate chip cookies, shortbread cookies always have a place in my kitchen. They’re easy to make and satisfying to eat, whether you’re snacking on them with tea or serving them up alongside ice cream for dessert. These Vanilla Brown Sugar Shortbread Buttons should be an instant hit with anyone who enjoys shortbread. They’re buttery, with just the right touch of brown sugar sweetness and a nice vanilla note to tie everything together. They’re tender enough to melt in your mouth, though they’re not so crumbly that they’ll fall apart while you’re eating them. You probably also have the ingredients on hand, which means you can make them right now.
I decided to make these cookies look like buttons just for fun. The cookies are relatively small and round, so adding a few button holes is a cute way to give them a little more personality. You could also use cookie cutters that have different shapes to them, however you will need to adjust the baking time if you do so because the time given here is for a smaller cookie. The dough does not need to be chilled before rolling it out (unless your kitchen is very warm) and can simply be rolled out on a lightly floured surface. I used a 2-inch round cookie cutter (slightly smaller will work, too) to cut the buttons, then poked button holes into each with a toothpick before baking. When the cookies came out of the oven, I again used a toothpick to emphasize the button holes while the cookies were still warm. The cookies will not spread much during baking and hold their shape well.
I used my homemade Barrel-Aged Vanilla Extract in this shortbread with fantastic results. Since the cookies are so simple, you can really get the toasted caramel notes from the “barrel”, along with the vanilla, in the finished cookies. I highly recommend playing around and making your own, though there are some other barrel aged vanilla extracts that you can buy. If you want to keep it simple, stick with a high quality vanilla extract and you’ll have delicious cookies.
Vanilla Brown Sugar Shortbread Buttons
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 3 tbsp all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and salt until light. Beat in vanilla extract, then slowly blend in the flour. The dough may appear dry at first, but it will come together as you mix it.
Gather the dough into a ball and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut the dough into circles and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Cookies will not spread much, so they can be placed close together. Dough can be gathered up and re-rolled 2-3 times.
Use a toothpick to prick for “button holes” in the center of each cookie.
Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the cookies are set around the edges. Cookies may brown very slightly around the edges. Once cookies are removed from the oven, go over the existing “button holes” to make them stand out. Allow cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet.
Makes about 24 cookies. Recipe can be doubled for a larger batch.