A delicious and simple vanilla shortbread cookies recipe made with only four ingredients! The perfect holiday cookie recipe to share with friends and family or give as a gift.
Once the tryptophan-induced coma from turkey day subsides, December seems to be a month-long celebration to honor the endless possibilities of the cookie. Pinwheels, snickerdoodles, peanut butter kisses, gingerbread… Oh my! I’m not complaining, quite the opposite, I’m embracing and indulging. Even though there are so many great cookie options out there, I’m a big fan of simplicity.
One of my favorite cookies to make during the holidays are vanilla shortbread cookies. Some years ago, after an incredible experience dining at the French Laundry, they sent us home with a small silver box filled with perfect rectangular shaped shortbread cookies dusted with just a hint of sugar. They crumble delicately while melting in your mouth with each bite, and they have just the right hint of sweetness.
I was searching through my Ad Hoc at Home cookbook and found the recipe for those very same shortbread cookies, whoot! You bet I immediately scavenged through my fridge and pantry to see if I could quickly make a batch. With only 4 ingredients, these are the easiest and tastiest vanilla shortbread cookies you will ever find!
This recipe is perfect for making sturdy cut-out cookies because the dough holds its shape very well after baking, so your precision cut gingerbread people don’t end up looking like stretched out Oompa Loompas! I like to use a fluted round cutter for the shape of the cookie, and lightly indent the centers with a flower or heart for more design.
The real secret ingredient that makes these cookies taste so wonderful is using vanilla paste, it makes the flavor pop and lasts longer with each bite. Using vanilla extract is totally okay, I just love seeing the little speckles of real vanilla bean on the surface of each cookie.
I can’t stop eating these delicious cookies! They are a fantastic treat or gift for those lucky loved ones. If you are looking for more holiday cookies, try my hot chocolate chili cookie for a rich and spicy surprise, beautiful and crispy French palmier cookies, or spiced persimmon cookies for a seasonal flavor.
What is Vanilla Bean Paste?
Vanilla bean paste is an excellent alternative to using whole vanilla beans (which are much more expensive). It combines vanilla extract and real vanilla seeds from the pod. The vanilla extract and seeds are mixed with sugar, water, and gum tragacanth (a thickener) to create a thick molasses-like paste. Because the flavors are more concentrated, you can add more vanilla without thinning or diluting sauces and batters. For the vanilla shortbread cookie, you also get beautiful vanilla seed speckles on the surface. To use vanilla bean paste, it’s a 1:1 replacement for vanilla extract or you can replace one tablespoon vanilla paste for one whole vanilla bean.