Ming says: I'm really enthusiastic about this dough. It produces shortbread and other cookies that are everything they should be: buttery, just sweet enough, crisp, yet melt-in-your-mouth tender, too.
Some, me included, like their butter cookies plain. Others like them with flavorful additions, like chocolate. To satisfy everyone, this recipe offers both. To make the various cookies, you prepare dough logs, cut the cookies from them, and then "season" the unbaked rounds with sugar or another mixture. You can freeze the dough flavored or unflavored, in logs or not—or some of each. The recipe makes enough dough that you can always have some on hand—a great thing for all cookie lovers.
Besides making outstanding cookies, you can use this dough to make a "tart"—a large, thin-rimmed cookie, which you then fill with pastry cream and garnish with fruit such as strawberries or blackberries.
Just form a shell (you can also make multiple smaller shells) with the dough and bake it blind (without a topping) until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool, and proceed with filling and topping. Make a napoleon-like cookie sandwich by stacking 3 cookies with a filling of pastry cream and fruit between the layers.... Read more.
In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and salt and cream on medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes.
One by one, add the egg yolks, mixing until incorporated.
Add the vanilla extract and the scrapings of the vanilla bean.
Scrape down the bowl.
Turn the mixer off and add the flour.
Turn the machine to low and mix until the flour is completely incorporated.
Remove the dough from the bowl.
Working on parchment or wax paper, form the dough into 4 logs 25cm long by 3 cm in diameter.
Wrap, and chill. Lasts 2 weeks, frozen.
After years of experimenting to find the best way to freeze sweet doughs, I recommend that you first wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then place it in foil, then in a resealable plastic bag and freeze.
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