Good shortbread cookies are always buttery, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture that keeps you coming back for that second bite. They tend to be simple cookies with short ingredient lists, where the butter is the star of the show. That doesn’t mean that you can’t add extra flavors to your favorite shortbread recipe, of course, and that is exactly what I did here. This Salted Toffee Shortbread has a classic buttery shortbread base, but is studded with sweet toffee bits and topped with a sprinkling of coarse salt.
To make the shortbread, cold butter is cut into a mixture of flour, sugar and salt. I prefer to combine the ingredients in a food processor so that the butter can be very finely chopped into the dry ingredients, resulting in a very even-textured shortbread. The food processor also makes the prep for this recipe take less than a minute! If you don’t have a food processor, you also can cut the butter in by hand, but be sure to get it as fine as possible.
The shortbread mixture will be very crumbly when the butter has been incorporated and the mixture will look very dry. Don’t worry, as that is exactly how the shortbread is supposed to look! Simply stir in the toffee bits, then pour everything into your prepared baking dish and spread it into an even layer over the whole base of the pan. Next, firmly press the mixture down and pack it evenly (use your fingers or the bottom of a glass). Sprinkle the shortbread with the coarse salt, then score it lightly into pieces using a sharp knife. Scoring the dough before baking will allow you to cut it more easily once it has set.
This shortbread is similar in style to Walker’s shortbread, meaning that it the pieces are a bit taller and more tender than some other shortbreads. I really enjoy this style because it almost melts in your mouth as you eat it. If you like your shortbread to be extremely crisp, you can pack the shortbread base into a 9×13-inch pan and bake until lightly browned. The shortbread should still be scored before baking to ensure that you can cut it apart without crumbling the cookies too much.
Salted Toffee Shortbread
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup finely chopped toffee bits
1/2 tsp coarse salt, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to blend.
Cut butter into large chunks and add to food processor. Whiz for about 1 minute, until dough has a very sandy and starts to clump together. Remove from food processor and stir in toffee bits. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Use a flat-bottomed glass to press down the dough firmly, creating as smooth a surface as possible.
Score dough lightly with a sharp knife, marking 4 rows by 8 rows of shortbread pieces. Dock the dough with a fork, if desired. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until shortbread is very lightly browned all over and is set.
While the shortbread is still hot and still in the pan, use a sharp knife or a bench scraper to cut shortbread all the way through along the lines you scored prior to baking. Allow shortbread to cool completely in the pan once it has been cut.
When cooled, shortbread pieces should break apart very easily. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 32 pieces.