Orange Thyme Shortbread Bars
by Dawn Viola of Wicked Good Dinner
Fresh orange and thyme infuse a sweet and floral essence into buttery, crisp shortbread bars.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces salted butter, softened (16 tablespoons)
- 1 cup organic sugar
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9 x 12-inch sheet pan or baking pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment, combine flour, butter, sugar, zest, thyme, and vanilla on low speed until flour is absorbed. Increase speed to medium-high; mix until a crumbly dough is formed.
Gather dough into a smooth ball and press evenly into prepared pan. Score dough with a knife (without cutting all the way through) into squares or rectangles. Using the tines of a fork, pierce each section of shortbread three times.
Place pan in oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove pan from oven. Using a knife, cut shortbread along score lines. Set it aside and allow to cool for one hour. Once cooled and firm, break bars apart along the score lines and serve. To store, transfer shortbread to an airtight container up to 7 days or freeze up to 1 month.
Shortbread nirvana and your oven:
To achieve shortbread nirvana, you’ll have to commit to your oven the first time you bake these or you could end up with some unpredictable results. Because every oven is different – some run hot, some run cool, which can cause uneven cooking – you’ll need to keep an eye on things. After the first 30 minutes of baking, check shortbread every 10 minutes until perfection and record any time differences.
Many flavors can be added to the base shortbread recipe (flour, butter, sugar). Replace the orange zest with lemon or lime zest, and the thyme with rosemary or Greek oregano. Or toasted, shredded coconut with a splash of almond extract is always a favorite in our family. The recipe can also be made savory by replacing the sugar with Parmesan cheese. The texture will be more crumbly, with an intense cheese flavor. Include savory mix-ins such as fresh herbs, cracked black pepper, roasted garlic, or toasted caraway seeds.