Tag Archives: shortbread

Avoid Sugar Overload and Make Rye Shortbread Cookies from Tandem Bakery

We’ve been flipping for Tandem Bakery ever since Andrew Knowlton crowned Portland, Maine, the restaurant city of the year in August. He loved the place so much, he recommended visiting every morning of your trip. There were too many things of baker Briana Holt’s to try: biscuits with jam and butter, black pepper plum pies, chocolate-malt cakes, blue cheese and olive scones, brioche stuffed with kimchi, eggs, and cheddar… At this big-ticket confection counter, it would be easy to miss the unremarkable stack of brown, round coins about the size of your palm. But it would be a mistake if you did.

“It took the rye shortbread cookie a long time to catch on,” Holt says by phone, at home with a cup of Kava tea. “I workshopped the recipe hard, as a personal quest to honor my favorite grain. I had to defend it to the death. But I believed in it wholeheartedly. People are sometimes unwilling to try something simple.”


Photo by Peter Frank Edwards

Ooooh, the display!

Her patience paid off, and the unassuming cookie has its own cult following among bakers, locals, and pastry tourists—those who swoon for its nutty, earthy flavor, nubbly texture, and understated richness. (I can vouch: I hadn’t been at my post at Bon Appétit for one whole week before I started receiving requests to have the recipe tracked down.) It’s the one people bring up the most when she’s out in the wild, Holt says, where people whisper a compliment as if it were a secret handshake. “To me it’s the kind of cookie where you don’t know why you like it, but you just keep eating it,” she says. “It’s not the belle of the ball, but it’s sooooo good.”

So good, that we had to get the recipe. And just in time too. Sure the holidays are for colorful sugar and edible glitter, but we’re all for throwing something a little unexpected, and lot less sweet, into the mix too.

rye shortbread cookies 1

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Kate Buckens

Holt, who has a thing for savory pastries, developed the cookie around her love of rye and its nutty, tangy flavor. “It’s a really old grain that’s used a lot in Nordic and Eastern European cooking, which is a heavy combo of where my people are from,” she says. Pairing the aromatic flour with lots and lots of butter felt like the right way to highlight its best attributes, so shortbread was the obvious answer. To top it off, she rolls the batter in black sesame seeds—“they’ve got this oliy richness that adds an extra luxury,” she says.

While the bakery uses organic stone ground dark rye flour that’s as freshly milled as she can get it, Holt assures any rye flour will do. They use coarse, stone ground rye flour. “It allows the nutty flavor of the rye to really shine through while the texture of the cookie is more rustic,” she says. “Finer or more sifted rye will result in a cookie that has more ‘snap’ than ‘crumble.’ It’s a subtle difference.” Most important though, is the butter. She recommends any low moisture, high fat kind you can find (she likes Plugra 84%), which helps build both a decadent full-fat flavor and the overall structure of the cookie: Less moisture means more crispness. This is your excuse to spring for the $6 brick, she says. “It’s a time not to skimp!”


Peter Frank Edwards

On the left, baker-goddess Briana Holt.

But what makes these cookies a true hero during holiday mayhem is that they improve with age. “We bake them the night before. They sit and dry out, and they’re so much better in the morning,” she says. “Shortbread is made to stick around. They’re made to get better.”

If their status as a cult classic wasn’t reason enough to jump on the bandwagon wagon, that certainly is.

Get the recipe:



Rye Shortbread Cookies

Place half of dough in the center of plastic wrap, then fold plastic over to cover dough and protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands, form dough into a log shape (rolling it on the counter will help), until log is about 2″ in diameter and 5″ long. Repeat with remaining dough. Chill logs until firm, about 2 hours.


These Striped Shortbread Cookies Have Taken Over Our Instagram Feed

Every December, the BA Test Kitchen churns out a handful of festive cookie recipes that go all out on the holiday vibes (glitter, kooky shapes, bizarro toppings). And every December, one cookie steals the stage as the most ogled, most baked confection of the year. For 2018, that winner—and by a landslide—is Chris Morocco’s zebra shortbread, a twist on the OG (literally), with layers of chocolate shortbread rolled right in. And if the black-and-white stripes weren’t enough, the cookies coated in green and red sanding sugar—just in case you forgot that Christmas is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!! So yeah, we can tell you all about how everyone is making the zebra cookies, but wouldn’t you much rather see everyone’s two-toned creations? We thought so.

Sooo, you’re going to make them now right?



These Shortbread Christmas Cookies Will Redeem All the Not-That-Careful Bakers

It was very brave of Bonappetit.com senior editor Sasha Levine to assign me this article. Sure, I’ve made decent cookies and brownies many times before. But any dessert item that involves making two doughs, measuring the size of the dough based on 6×2” rectangles, and creating layers of said dough is a world beyond my pastry comprehension.

Sasha, for unknown reasons, had blind faith that I could handle it. And ya know what, friends? I did okay! Better than okay even! A sugar-happy four-year-old and several colleagues confirmed that my cookies tasted great—like shortbread meets a not-too-sweet chocolate Oreo, minus the cream filling. Plus, they looked mostly like the professionally styled photo, minus some uneven blue sprinkles and a chocolate layer that didn’t make it all the way to the edges. I found myself eating “several” at a time.

If I, a person who has stains on her shirt more often than not, can make these cookies, then I feel very confident that you can too. So bust out that pastry ruler and keep these things in mind:

1. Don’t be intimidated by the swirl.It’s right there in the recipe headnote: “Here’s a fancy-looking swirl that novices can succeed at too.” This is a forgiving swirl. Let’s say, hypothetically, that you make your two doughs and discover that somehow you have a bit more vanilla dough than chocolate dough…and the vanilla dough is a little more pliable. Soldier on, comrade! As long as you can still stack the doughs per the recipe instructions (see more below), it’s all going to be fine. If you’re a perfectionist, I’m sure your cookies will look amazing. If you’re the kind of person who consistently discovers food in your hair many hours since you last ate (hi! Let’s be friends!), these cookies can still be part of your repertoire.

2. You can make the dough three days ahead of time.Cookie projects are fun, but then life gets in the way—grocery shopping took longer than you thought, you have been meaning to go to the gym, that cheesy Netflix Christmas movie is beckoning you… It’s all good. Make the dough, put it in the fridge, and bake the cookies another day. These are cookies for sort of lazy—but not entirely lazy—people.

3. These cookies can help you get out some rage.The step I was dreading the most was when you have to stack the vanilla and chocolate layers on top of each other to join them into one black-and-white log. My doughs were, um, not exactly the same texture (as previously confessed) and I was worried about that final swirl. In the end, though, this ended up being my favorite part. The instructions say to “pat into rectangles” but I interpreted “pat” as “aggressively mold the layers while working through some “feelings.” It was cathartic. May the layering offer you the same respite it did for me.

Get the recipe:


You know what would make a pretty great holiday gift? Our magazine! And a cool tote bag, plus some great baking tools for holiday cookies. More details here.


Zebra-Striped Shortbread Cookies

Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Working one at a time, unwrap dough and brush with egg. Carefully sprinkle surface with sanding sugar and roll logs in sugar to coat well (really press dough into sugar so it sticks). Slice into rounds a generous ¼” thick, rotating after every few cuts to keep slices round. Arrange cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart. Bake, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until edges are just set, 12–14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.