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NPR featured a story this week about a well loved recipe that was lost and now found. The Brass sisters first ate this shortbread as children but lost the recipe over time. After many years, they found a recipe that they say is an exact replica of the beloved, buttery shortbread of their childhood. The trick to excellent shorbread, they say, is “Always use butter — don’t use shortening, don’t use margarine. It has to be butter.” The sisters got this recipe spot on.

Orange Shortbread Cookies

Orange Shortbread Cookies (from NPR)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • Grated zest of 1 orange

Set oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch by 9-inch by 2-inch pan with foil. Grease the foil with butter or coat with vegetable spray.

Add flour and salt to a mixing bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.

Cream butter (which should not be soft, but should not be ice cold, either) and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add orange zest.  Add dry ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until completely absorbed and dough comes together. Do not overbeat or shortbread will be tough.

Gently pat dough into prepared pan. Prick top of dough evenly about 20 to 25 times. Bake shortbread 35 minutes. Cool on rack for about 20-25 minutes, or until slightly warm. Score shortbread with a knife into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces, but do not cut through entirely. When completely cool, cut into pieces along scored lines. The texture should be sandy and crumbly. Store orange shortbread in a covered tin between sheets of wax paper, at room temperature. Makes about 25 to 30 cookies, depending on how you cut them.