It’s not socially acceptable to just eat sticks of butter, and that is why the Scots invented shortbread. They could have just called it butterbread, but the use of the word “short” is due to the fact that the old meaning of “short” is actually “crumbly”. And the reason shortbread is crumbly is because of ALL THE BUTTER.
Traditional shortbread is composed of sugar, butter and flour in a 1:2:3 ratio. Traditionally, oat flour is used, but nowadays it is often substituted with regular AP flour.
Though they really need no topping, I decided to add a layer of melted chocolate and some sprinkles to these shortbread bars. The easiest way to do this is just to dump chocolate chips on top of the shortbread the minute that it comes out of the oven. Usually, the heat from the pan alone should be enough to melt the chips, but in case it isn’t (or you are getting impatient because Say Yes to the Dress already started and you are missing it), just stick the pan back in the oven for about 20 seconds.
Once the chocolate chips got that shiny, melty look, I pulled the pan out of the oven, smoothed the chocolate with a knife, threw some sprinkles on top, and then went to the back patio to take pictures.
Sometimes taking good pictures means lying flat on your stomach and getting up close and personal with a stack of cookies. This can cause people (such as the guy mowing the lawn) to look at you with a mixture of amusement and concern, prompting you to try and relieve the awkwardness by greeting him with what can really only be described as a salute. The best thing to do in these situations is grab the cookies, run inside, and drown the embarrassment by shame-eating 3 or 4 of those chocolate-covered butterbombs.
Once the shame-eating is complete, I advise burning off this massive caloric intake is with a nice, long walk. I recommend starting at Il Vittoriano on Piazza Venezia and working your way down the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II until you get to Ponte Sant’Angelo, and find yourself face to face with this:
The Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Originally commissioned as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family, the castle was later used as a papal fortress, occasional papal residence, and prison. Nowadays it is home to Il Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo.
It could also be a wedding cake covered in mocha buttercream, thus making it a perfect way to book-end the walk from Piazza Venezia.
Shortbread bars recipe (adapted from Joy of Baking)
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups AP flour
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- rainbow sprinkles for decorating (can also use toffee bits, chopped walnuts, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350° and line a 9×9″ baking pan with parchment paper (or grease with baking spray).
Using hand mixer (or stand mixer), beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract, then flour and salt and mix until dough comes together.
Press dough into pan, forming an even layer. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until shortbread becomes light golden-brown.
Remove pan from oven and evenly distribute chocolate chips on top of shortbread. If desired, place pan back in oven for 20 seconds to speed up the melting process. Once chips begin to look melted, use a butter knife or offset spatula to spread chocolate in an even layer. Immediately top with sprinkles (or topping of choice), and allow chocolate to harden before cutting.