Pistachio-Orange Shortbread — Bake-Ahead Batches
We've all heard of shortbread, but what exactly does it mean when we say a pastry is "short"? The terms "short crust," "shortbread" and even "shortening" all refer to the texture of the crumb of the pastry. Short pastry is usually dense, crumbly, crisp and buttery, and these flavorful bars, studded with orange zest and nuts — and drizzled with chocolate — are no exception.
But what makes the dough "short"? It all has to do with the ratio of butter to flour. In a short crust, there is a relatively high proportion of fat to flour. The key is to incorporate the butter before adding any liquid. Coating the flour with fat first keeps the dough from developing too much gluten and ensures a super-tender crumb.
Besides being easy, shortbread is the perfect cookie to make when you’re short on time. The dough comes together in minutes, and it's simply patted out into one sheet and baked. There is no scooping or portioning, and there is only one batch to worry about. Think just speedy cookies for anyone with a short attention span (like me!).
If you have only a 9 1/2-inch tart pan, feel free to use it. Your shortbread will be slightly thicker and will need to bake a few extra minutes.
Samantha Seneviratne is a New York-based writer, recipe developer and food stylist. She is the author of The New Sugar and Spice (Ten Speed Press), a baking cookbook combining family stories and food history with recipes that reimagine dessert as a more balanced mix of sugar and spice. Her second book, Gluten Free for Good (Clarkson Potter), comes out in August 2016. She blogs about dessert at Love, Cake.