“I want shortbread,” my wife Suzi said.

That is shorthand for “Find me a recipe.” I am obedient, finally, and I immediately went to Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie. In fact, I’ve just done today’s TBT Cookbook Review featuring Tish’s essential cookie book.

So, for the TBT recipe today, although I haven’t used it before, here’s a monster shortbread cookie. It is filled with vanilla flavor and is not the dry version like Walker’s. There’s a moistness here the butter that is distinctive and important.

Vanilla-Scented Shortbread

Yield: about 24 cookies depending on pans and cutting


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 plump vanilla bean
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest [we did NOT use this]
  • ¾ cup [1 ½ stick] cold, unsalted butter cut into ½‑inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons [or more] coarse sugar for sprinkling


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Have two 7 ½-inch fluted tart pans with removable bottoms or two 9-inch glass pie pans at hand.

Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the tiny seeds of the vanilla bean into a small bowl; discard the bean and set the seeds aside.

Place the flour, cornstarch, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until blended. Add the sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and orange zest and process for a few seconds, until blended. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour mixture and pulse 6 or 7 times, then process for 6 seconds, or until the crumbs are fine and powdery. Process for another 5 to 7 seconds, until the crumbs are clumpier and the dough holds together easily when pressed.

Press the dough evenly and firmly into the tart pans (if using pie pans, press the dough only into the bottom of the pans, not up the sides). Press the back of the tines of a fork all around the edges of each pan, and sprinkle the shortbread with the coarse sugar. Bake the shortbread for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is just barely colored a creamy beige; don’t let it brown. Place the pans on a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.

Remove the rims of the pans if you are using the tart pans, and cut each round into 12 wedges while it is still very warm. Transfer the triangles to the wire rack and cool completely.

Source: The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle [John Wiley and Sons, 2002]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/25th second at ISO‑3200