Bourbon, Brown Butter and Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

Bourbon, Brown Butter and Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

bourbon-brown-butter-vanilla-shortbread-cookie

On a recent trip to Bali, I got some beautiful vanilla beans. Indonesian vanilla is rather intense in flavor and aroma,  some might even find it too harsh and smoky. I thought of this cookie recipe immediately, which uses large amounts of nutty browned butter to counter the intensity of the vanilla.

shortbread-cookie-dough

The original recipe asked for bourbon, which I substituted with Mount Gay rum. There's a fair amount of alcohol involved, and the flavor is supposed to linger and not evaporate away when baked. Sadly it didn't really shine through, so I'll consider upping the amount next time or actually invest in some bourbon. I prefer my butter cookies with a golden edge and darker bottom, so I had it baked just a tad longer. Either way they have a perfect buttery crumb, and are equally delicious.

bourbon-brown-butter-vanilla-shortbread-cookie

Bourbon, Brown Butter and Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

Makes around 30 cookies. Adapted from love & olive oil

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup bourbon
extra 1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling

  1. Make browned butter. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until butter solids (the bits that separate in the bottom of the pan) turn a deep amber color, about 7 to 8 minutes. Watch closely, as the butter burns very quickly if you're not careful. Pour into a plastic or glass container and let cool for 15 minutes before putting into the fridge. Leave in the fridge for around 2-3 hours or until butter has returned to its solid state.
  2. Make the dough. Remove butter from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. With a spatula, transfer soft butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. With a paddle mixer, beat on medium-high speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until light and fluffy and no visible chunks remain. Add brown sugar and continue to beat for 1 to 2 minutes more. Add vanilla bean seeds and mix until incorporated.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt until evenly blended. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix on low speed until almost incorporated. Add bourbon and mix on low speed until mixture comes together into a crumbly dough. Do not overwork the dough.
  4. Divide dough into two portions, then place in the center of a sheet of plastic wrap, forming into a 10-inch log. Roll tightly with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough. You should end up with two 10-inch logs approximately 1-3/4 inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight, until firm.
  5. Bake cookies. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  6. Remove logs from refrigerator and allow the outer layer to soften, around 5 minutes. Spread a thin layer of granulated sugar on your working surface and roll the logs until well covered with sugar. With a sharp knife, cut into 3/8-inch-thick slices and arrange on baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space between each cookie. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until cookies are set and bottom edges are light golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.
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