This is a standard recipe for making pretty good shortbread cookies. Feel free to vary the ingredient amounts to achieve what you want … more buttery, more crumbly or more sugary. Alas, Marie laughed herself silly after my first attempt to make shortbread cookies in 1979. I made a major error in the ratio of sugar to flour so my cookies were hard as rocks … tasty, but hard.
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
In a separate bowl mix the flour with the salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract.
Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into whatever shape you prefer using a lightly floured cookie cutter.
Place the cookies on the parchment paper and place them in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked. (You can also skip the use of parchment paper, spray a cookie sheet with Pam®, put the cookies directly on the cookie sheet and put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.)
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown. Cool them on a rack.
Shortbread cookies will keep in an airtight container for about a week or frozen for several months.