This is good stuff. The brown sugar makes these cookies extra chewy, dense, and caramely. The edges are crisp and the tops are just a little crackly. They don't have the sandiness of a traditional shortbread, but that's not a shortcoming. It's a great recipe for the repertoire: quick, easy, delicious, and ingredients I always have on hand. And the triangles are so cute!
Brown Sugar Shortbread
Makes 2- 8" pans
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups (9 5/8 ounces) flour
Heat the oven to 325F.
Beat the butter, sugar, and salt until creamy, about two minutes. Do not over mix. Gradually beat in the flour. You may need to work in the last half-cup with your hands. The dough will be stiff.
Divide the dough in half. Now decide if you want chewy, wedge-shaped cookies or crispy bar cookies (or half and half).
For chewy cookies, grease two 8" pans (round or square), line with parchment, and butter the parchment. Press half of the dough into one pan and the rest into the other pan. Smooth the top with the bottom of a buttered measuring cup. Prick the dough with the fork in a decorative concentric circle pattern. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
For crispy bar cookies, shape each dough half into a 10x4" rectangle on a lightly floured board. Run your fingers along the edges to true them up. Carefully lift each rectangle onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment. Score each rectangle into 24 small rectangles without cutting all the way through: run the knife all the way down lengthwise, then score crosswise 11 times. Prick each one several times with a fork. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes. (Note: I didn't try this method. I'm not sure why you couldn't just shape the dough straight onto the silpat or parchment and avoid having to transfer it. I also have no idea how different the crispy cookies taste from their chewy counterparts).
Bake 25-30 minutes until lightly brown along the edges. Remove and cool for about 5 minutes. You need to slice the shortbread while still warm. If they cool completely, they will crumble. For the chewy bars, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cookies, then invert the pan; slice into wedges. For the crispy bars, transfer them to a cutting board so you don't cut through the silpat, and then cut all the way through the scored marks. Transfer warm cookies to a rack and cool completely.
These are great with vanilla ice cream!