Shortbread cookies are quite simply one of the world’s perfect baked treats. These Scottish stunners are delectable on their own as a quick snack or a treat to nibble with afternoon tea, and they make a great buttery base for elaborate filled or sandwich cookies or any number of delicious desserts. Our friends at ChefSteps have an easy-to-use recipe — only six ingredients — that is just the thing to keep in mind for any dessert emergency.

A last-minute dinner party? Whip up a batch to round out that post-meal coffee. The annual school bake sale? Add these to the spread, and prepare for swarms of salivating seven-year-olds. A demanding sweet tooth? Slather on some sweet-tart jam and go to town. With this recipe in your repertoire, you’ll be prepared for whatever life throws at you — because a good cookie cures all. It’s that simple.

Servings: 30 cookies

Ingredients
30 grams nonfat dry milk powder
190 grams butter, salted, softened at room temperature
30 grams sugar, granulated
30 grams powdered sugar
4 grams vanilla extract
200 grams pastry flour
salt, Maldon flake, optional, for garnish, as needed

FAQ’s

Why is it called shortbread?
Shortbread is a Scottish delicacy that dates back to at least the 12th century, though legend credits its modern incarnation to Mary, Queen of Scots. Pastries are called “short” if they have a crumbly texture — which shortbread is famous for.

Can I use this cookie dough as a base for other cookies?
You sure can. While we don’t recommend chopped nuts, basically any other cookie ingredient would work. Chocolate-chip shortbread sounds pretty divine. You could even go savory and add caraway seeds, which are a traditional addition for shortbread.

Any major pitfalls I should watch out for?
Just make sure not to overwork the dough. You want to have a nice, crumbly texture when finished — let the dough breathe a little.

How long will these keep in my fridge?
You can store these in your fridge for a few days, but they will keep much better in the freezer.

Directions:

1. Spread nonfat dry milk powder on a parchment paper–lined baking tray and toast in the oven at 350°F for 10–15 minutes, or until brown. Set aside to cool.

2. Combine butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for two minutes, then increase speed to medium-high and mix for two more minutes. Make sure to pause the mixer from time to time to scrape down the excess dough on the sides. When it’s ready, the dough should be a pale color with a fluffy, whipped texture.

3. Add pastry flour and milk powder. Mix until fully incorporated.

4. Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two equal pieces. On a sheet of parchment or wax paper — this can get sticky — roll each piece of dough into a cylinder about an inch and a half in diameter. Twist the ends tightly to make the cylinder more uniform. Chill in the fridge until very firm — this will take at least two hours.

5. Preheat oven to 275°F.

6. Cut the dough into quarter-inch slices using a hot, sharp knife. Heating the knife will help it make even strokes and stay clean while you work. You can get your knife hot by dipping it in hot water and drying it with a towel.

7. Place the raw, cut cookies on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and keep in the fridge until it’s time to cook. If you have any leftover cookie dough, you can keep it in the fridge for a few days or much longer in the freezer.

8. Place the cookies on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through. Use convection if you have it — if not, you may need to rotate the baking sheet more often for even cooking and extend the baking time by a few minutes. The cookies are ready to go when they’re blond and not too caramelized. If you’re planning to garnish with flake salt, sprinkle it on right after removing the cookies from the oven.

9. Cool to room temperature and enjoy every. last. one.

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