Short(bread) Revolution: Going Off Piste

My toddler likes to flip through books, magazines, catalogues, anything she can get her hands on, a category which increases each day with her ever-growing arms. Some old Martha Stewart magazines have been favorites of hers. We flip through looking for cats, and I skim the recipes as they wiz by. On the hundredth viewing, I finally tore out the recipe card for the Walnut Shortbread in the ‘Meal for Four in About an Hour’ section. It looked tasty and quick (as are most of the recipes in this section).

I tried it earlier this week when the chores were done early. I had read (in Baking by Dorrie Greenspan) that shortbread, ice box cookies, and sugar cookies are all basically the same thing just different names. And, as I loved my pistachio ice box cookies so much, I tried Martha’s shortbread with pistachios (amongst other tweaks). And they were fantastic.

But then last night I was out of shortbread and wanted to make more quickly and I didn’t have any softened butter. And I remembered Alice Medrich saying in Bittersweet how she created a recipe for sweet French pastry using melted butter, and so I thought, why not try shortbread with melted butter?

I hedged a little as I weighed out the 4 oz. of butter – what a waste it would be if it went wrong – but then sometimes you just have to have the courage of your convictions as Julia would say, and so I did it. And they are every bit as crumbly, buttery, & nutty as the first batch. And so begins the shortbread revolution (not surprisingly, I’m not the first to discover this melted butter trick, as a quick internet search reveals. So perhaps it’s better said that the revolution has only just arrived at our house).

These are so easy, I may just become a shortbread-aholic. Whilst the butter melts the rest of the ingredients get measured and mixed. Then stir in the butter, pat into the pan and bake. All in less than 10 minutes, and no intensive arm-work involved.

Revolutionary Nut Shortbread
inspired by a recipe from Martha Stewart

4 oz. unsalted butter (=8 Tbs. / 1stick)
1 C all purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
a pinch of salt
1/3 C nuts
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt the butter.

Whilst the butter melts, chop the nuts as fine as you like. I go for about medium fine, mostly small pieces but some bigger ones.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, and nuts. Whisk to combine.

Pour the vanilla into the butter. Then pour the butter over the dry ingredients.

Mix with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. The mixture will be a little stiff and thick. Dump it into a greased pie tin or cake pan and push it down with the spoon or your hands.

Bake at 180C/350F for 25-30 minutes until just golden brown. Cut into servings whilst warm, I think it will crumble a lot if cut when cool. You can also cut the servings before baking.

P.S. Yes, that is a Poppin’ Fresh Pie tin in the photo. It must be about 20 years old by now, but still going strong. It’s the perfect size for this recipe, if any of you happen to have one.


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