brown-butter-brown-sugar-shorties Recipes

brown butter brown sugar shorties

There are cookies, and there are cookies. There are melted toffee bits and pound-of-chocolate brownie-like discs that require half a glass of milk for a single bite and there are snappy little sables called Punitions. There are peanut butter cookies with chocolate pieces, peanut butter pieces and tiny chunks of peanuts in them and there are toasty little twice-baked shortbreads with scraped vanilla beans inside. There are pecan squares on shortbread bases boasting nine sticks of butter and two pounds of pecans and there are these: brown butter, brown sugar shorties.

butter, meltingbrown-ish butterready to be "logged"rolling in coarse sugar

Some cookies are packed into tins with truffles and orangettes and shipped to friends around the country and you have other cookies with tea on a cold, windy day. Some are indulgences to bring to a holiday party and others should be baked on a Tuesday, just because. Some cookies are for others; these should be just for you.

ready to bake

Why? Because they’re not the prettiest cookie and they’d never be an easy sell on a table full of frosted and snowflake-shaped and red, green and white stacked jam filled, chocolate coated cookie compatriots. But if you had one in front of you right now — and I do, not to rub it in or anything — you’d understand. They’re all flavor and fragrance, the kinds of things you need make yourself to really understand: nutty browned butter, dark brown sugar, a pinch of salt, a splash of vanilla and a tumble in coarse raw sugar. They’re spectacularly easy to make for all that you get out of them, which is, in short, heaven in an unforgettable 1 1/2-inch by 1/4-inch disc.

Need I say more?

brown butter brown sugar shorties

One year ago: Ratatouille Tart
Two years ago: German Pancakes (Dutch Babies)

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Shorties
Adapted from Gourmet

If you’re worried you’ll eat the whole batch — and you would be, I think, if you had one in front of you, too — the greatness that is the slice-and-bake cookie is that you can just bake off a few at a time and then hide the rest in the fridge (for a week) or the freezer (for a month) until the craving strikes again.

The back story behind this cookie, by the way, is that a few weeks ago, I had lunch with some food bloggers, two of whom were in town for the Gourmet Institute and we were joined by the nicest Gourmet editor, Ian Knauer. When I came home, I immediately looked up recipes with his name attached to them and found this gem. What can I say? Awesome people clearly cook awesome things.

Makes about 32 cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (preferably dark)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (flaky salt would be great in these)
Demerara sugar (Sugar in the Raw) or sanding sugar for rolling (optional)

Cut butter into four or five pieces and cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it has a nutty fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn a light brown, anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes. It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Transfer butter to a bowl and chill until just firm, about 1 hour.

Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then mix in flour and salt at low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper or parchment and form into a 12-inch log, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Unwrap dough and roll it in coarse sugar, if using, and press the granules in with the paper you’d be using to wrap it. Slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, arranging 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until surface is dry and edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes. Let sit on sheet for a minute before transferring to a rack to cool. (Cookies will quite fragile at first, but will firm up as they cool.)

Dough keeps, chilled, up to 1 week, or in the freezer, up to one month. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

Update 12/8/08: I am going to go ahead and put a yellow/yield light on this recipe. Although I have tested it twice, and had dreamy results both times, as have the majority of respondents, enough commenters are speaking of “spreading” or “falling apart” cookies that I want to warn you to approach this recipe more cautiously.

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341 comments on brown butter brown sugar shorties

  1. Brit

    This sounds amazing and so simple, BUT–I don’t have an electric mixer. Can these–and many other recipes–be made without one? Or is the electric mixer essential?

  2. Yael

    Ooh, looks lovely!

    I also made the lime meltaways not long ago (no key limes, but fresh limes from our tree, because *melodramatic sigh* we just have too many!) and they are a great success.

    And those gorgeoous chocolate-hard toffee-pure decadence cookies also tempt me, but the problem is where I am (Israel) I cannot find any Heath bars, so I’ve been meaning to ask you if caramel candy such as Werther’s might do instead – I imagine the flavour would be similar, even if they’re not chocolate coated, but then again I don’t think I know what a Heath bar actually tastes like. Any thoughts?

  3. I love cookies that are good enough just to make for yourself. I am intrigued by the brown butter. These will definitely be added to my “must bake” cookie list holiday season. Thanks!
    -Emily

  4. deb

    Yael — You’d want to replace the heath bars with any hard toffee or brittle you can find, if it is chocolate coated, all the better. Werthers might be too soft.

  5. These are wonderful — my favorite type of cookie! It’s definitely what I would reach for, even at a table full of the other kind. Their simplicity is genius. And… you just *had* to rub it in, didn’t you! ;)

  6. Mary

    Hi, I’m a new visitor to your site and loving it. One question – I live in Jamaica and am not certain what amount of butter is meant by a stick in your part of the world? Can you give me an approximate other measure? Thanks!

  7. I’m always on the hunt for good freezer roll cookies! I love having slice and bake cookies handy so I can whip out fresh cookies at a moment’s notice. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Isn’t amazing how the simple act of browning butter can dramatically change the flavor of it? I love brown butter and mizithra angel hair pasta. My mouth started watering as I read your description of these cookies! I’ve been thinking about making cookies to freeze so our holiday pounds can be spread over several months instead of piled on in a week of cookie inhalation – these would be perfect!

  9. eliza

    A cookie without eggs… I will have to try it, but not today. I made your pumpkin bean soup (YUM for dinner), toasted pumpkin seeds, lasagna (for lunch), and pumpkin cheesecake bars (which if I eat anymore, I wont be hungry for dinner). Thanks!

  10. KimberlyB

    I’m going to make these today when I get back from errand running. I don’t plan to eat them all, just MOST of them! I think I’ll let the kids each have one and I’ll save a couple for my husband! ;-) Thanks for sharing another wonderful find!

  11. Susan

    Yay..you’re back again today! Your sweets recipes (and appetizers) are especially handy to have this time of year. I’m just sayin..

    I love shortbread cookies, I think they are probably my favorites. Those twice baked shorties were so good, I’m betting that these are too. I am currently so taken with dark brown sugary, butterscotchy sweets that I can just imagine that these are near perfection. Thanks, Deb. See ya sooner than later??? xox

  12. Amanda

    These look wonderful! I’ve been on the prowl today for christmas cookie recipes and almost forgot that I have two vegan friends to bake for too! I’m hoping I can swap out that butter for some margerine/butter substitute in these eggless beauties and call it a day :)

  13. Jenna

    My goodness, I was expecting you to take a little more of a break. You are so busy! These look delicious, and just right for my college budget. I think I’ll make these for the night when we decorate the Christmas tree. Thanks again! My fiance thinks that I am a really good cook. I really only do what you tell me to do, though.

  14. I think these look great! I think the fact that they are simple will make them stand out against all the other gobs of fancy christmas cookies. They get my vote just for the fact they don’t have a bunch of christmas icing and sprinkles on them, sometimes that stuff gets in the way of a cookies true flavor.

  15. Deanne

    Those look delicious, I can’t wait to try them. But I have an important question: what happens to all the delicious cookies you make? Eat them or give them away? I mean, it’s a lot of cookies…

  16. Heidi

    I’ll be digging out the cookie sheets as soon as I get to the kitchen. Love it when I just happen to have all of the ingredients on hand. I’m also thrilled you decided to continue posting after having run the “Blogging Marathon”. Hope the people at Gourmet Magazine appreciate your talent.

  17. Lisaiz

    Oooooooo – brown butter….. I fell in love with brown butter at a local coffee shop that had wonderfully divine desserts. One night they had a chocolate cake with brown butter icing – it was the most delicious, amazing, unbelievable cake I ever ate, and the icing was the key. Most cake recipes with brown butter icing call for white/yellow cake, but a rich chocolate cake is the perfect match, IMO.

    So now whenever I see a recipe that mentions brown butter, my eyes light up and my mouth salivates. These cookies look incredible with several of my favorite things – brown butter, brown sugar, and a sugar cookie/shortbread simple ingredient list – YUM!

    Thank you – now I know how I’m going to treat myself for the holidays! :-)

  18. 5280Mommy

    Cookie dough without eggs! This means that my poor pregnant soul will be able to nibble on some cookie dough without obsessing about passing salmonella on to my kiddo. Hooray! Oh, and I’m sure once I bake the dough the cookies will be delicious too. But right now I’m focused on the dough. Thanks Deb!

  19. Alice

    have i mentioned before that your cookies will be the death of me? (and my friends?) i love your blog so much! although i still have many more cooking disasters than you… (i accidentally forgot the flour in your brown butter hazelnut cake, and i don’t have a food processor so i used a blender to grind my hazelnuts- which i burnt by the way- and turned them into hazelnut butter…) and i have slightly more counter-top space, but utilize it poorly… i will still valiantly attempt everything that looks delicious!!! =P

    keep on posting recipes! almost everything i make nowadays is from here =)

  20. Wow, you’re amazing!!! You are such an inspiration! I always get hungry when I check your website, usually while working…. What do you do with all your cookies, you don’t look like you eat them? I am definitely going to try them! Maybe tonight, planned to make a chocolate-orange cake as well, hmm. Ok maybe tomorrow…

  21. Thanks for giving a way to not bake up the whole batch and thereby ruin every meal for the rest of the week since we would be too full of these sweet treats! Not that I would know what it was like to eat a whole batch….by myself….in a day…

  22. Kim

    This is my kind of cookie, you can keep the sprinkles, the powdered sugar and all the fancy dancy ones, I’ll take these. Thanks for an amazing cookie!

  23. I love that cookies have personalities. And I like even more that you’re bringing attention to the ugly ducklings of the cookie world and making them just as important as their prettier counterparts.

  24. Stephen

    Hi, the cookies look great (especially as it’s getting cold out)! Can sunflower based margarine be substituted for the butter? If so, how much (weight or volume) do you think would be appropriate? Thank you!

  25. amanda

    I made these last night and they turned out delicious. The only issue I had was that the 3-4 minutes of butter cooking time on medium heat as instructed was not enough time to get the butter nice and brown on my stove top. When I went back to your flickr pictures I realized how much darker your butter and dough were.

    The final product however was deliciously sweet and salty with a shortbread like crumb. Their an addicting snacking cookie!

  26. deb

    Hi Stephen — Most of the flavor in this cookie comes from the browned butter. Margarine won’t brown in the same way, and get a nutty flavor, so I don’t recommend it. I’m not saying you won’t have a cookie that is edible, but you won’t have this cookie. I think the margarine swap works better in cookies whose flavor isn’t entirely anchored in butter. Lots more inspiration here if you’re in need of it.

  27. What if you rolled the cookies in coarse salt instead of sugar? It’s wonderful with Alice Medrich’s balsamic chocolate drops, but perhaps it won’t play as effectively off the browned-butter flavor. It might just taste like a mistake.

  28. Oh my, this sounds wonderful.
    I’ve never tried making a cookie with browned butter, but I agree with what was said above, that you can’t go wrong with Butter and Brown Sugar!
    I will be making this sooner than later!
    It’s kind of the ‘ugly duckling’ philosophy, isn’t it? :o)
    Thank you!
    Cindy H

  29. These look so simple and delicious they remind me that I’ve been craving some German cinnamon star cookies but don’t have a recipe. Alas maybe I will add some spices to these and see how they turn out!

  30. I found some turbinado sugar on a close-out sale for $1 for a 5# bag (at my local Shell Station of all places – don’t ask). I’ve been looking for ways to use it, and coincidentally spectacularly easy cookie recipes as well. This might be just the ticket!

  31. Laura

    Hey Deb… these are my kind of cookie! I’m playing hookie from work today just to make these (and MAYBE your walnut tart)… I mean *cough cough*
    ;-)

  32. Esmeralda

    Yael — Do you have Daim bars in Israel? I am an American living in the UK. When I moved here, I searched everywhere for a Heath bar. One of my English friends introduced me to a Daim bar which is very similar to a Heath bar. Hopefully Daims are available in Israel.

  33. Miriam

    I’m a longtime fan of your website, but this is the first time I’ve posted. These cookies look fabulous, and I can’t wait to try them. One question: how do you get the log rolled so perfectly?

  34. Elizabeth

    Hi Deb – quick question for you. When you say the butter takes 2-3 minutes to brown, do you mean 2-3 minutes from the moment you turn on the heat under the pan? Or is it 2-3 minutes from when all of the butter is melted? Or…? I just got done browning the butter, but here’s my problem: after about 7 minutes on medium heat, my butter still wasn’t brown, but then I got nervous that it would reduce too much and poured it into a bowl. Then I realized that not browning the butter would defeat the purpose of this recipe, I tossed it back onto the heat. One minute later, things started smelling nutty and I was like “SWEET!” Then, before I could say “brown butter sugar shorties,” the bits at the bottom turned BLACK and I could tell things were burning. I’m still going to forge ahead with the recipe, but I’m just curious about timing and how to judge things in the future. My advice for anyone else reading the comments is that the nutty smell is VERY distinct and also means that you gotta get your butta off of the heat!

  35. I think my xmas cookie-baking-hoopla just got a little easier this year. Rolled in coarse sugar, these will look fantastic on my buffet table with the other cookies. I know my family will love them!

  36. deb

    Hi Elizabeth (and others with butter-browning questions) — What a bummer. So, in hindsight, I think that the butter-browning step is really intended for someone who is familiar with the process, and not the clearest for someone doing it for the first time. I am going to update it with a little more detail: it probably will take an extra minute or two at a medium heat in a heavy pot, and eyeballing is really the best way to see if it is done.

    Miriam — I use a spatula to spread the cookie batter evenly across in a strip and then I use the two ends of the waxed paper like a sling, rolling them back and forth and pressing down on the dough to help ease the strip into a log shape. (Um, it is not unlike the process of rolling a… cigarette. There, I said it.) Once it is firm, you can always roll it back and forth on the counter to remove any kinks before slicing it.

  37. Lisa

    I have to third the question of some other commenters until we get the answer (which you might not have, I know, lol):

    Do we need the electric mixer for this? Would a food processor suffice? Mixing by hand?

    This mixer-less reader awaits the answer with baited breath.

  38. deb

    I thought Mariana (#23) covered it well: Creaming can be done by hand but it takes longer and a bit of arm strength. I’d probably recommend using a strong whisk to make sure you’re whipping it smoothly and well. It would be a lot easier with at least a hand mixer. (Mine is a whopping $23 on Amazon right now and took me through years without a KitchenAid. Sorry–had to plug it!)

  39. Laura

    Being a novice butter-browner… I decided to go by the smell of the butter rather than the color; since you can barely see the color because of the bubbling (also, if you have a non-stick pan, the black will leave you no chance of seeing the color). when I poured out the butter, it didn’t look brown, but the sediment was golden brown just as Deb said it would be and smelled nutty and toasty.

    Does that help anyone?

  40. amanda

    i’m baaaaack!

    I want to chime in that I (sadly) do not own a mixer, and made this recipe with my large whisk. It worked just fine. Next time however, I will run my brown sugar through my fine mesh colander first to better rid it of lumps. Those were hard to smash up properly with my whisk. But really? It was no trouble at all.

    As an aside, I just bought a pastry cutter so that I can finally tackle pie crust! That KitchenAid mixer will have to wait until fortune befalls me….which it will… surely… one day…. maybe. Sigh.

  41. Lauren in Lebanon

    The browned butter definitely added an extra element . . . I’ll try browning butter for other recipes for an added kick!

  42. Shirlie

    These cookies were awesome! I cut my batch into two, and mixed in a handful of chopped chocolate to one. I can’t decide which cookie tastes better. Very complex flavor for such a short ingredient list! Thanks for the recipe.

  43. Elizabeth

    Thanks for the help, Deb! I’m a total novice, so I didn’t know what to expect. I just mixed the dough together and it’s looking (and smelling) pretty fantastic. I have a feeling that my little black chunks won’t be a problem…and if my fiance notices (yeah right) then I’ll just tell him it’s vanilla bean. :)

  44. Jackie

    Deb, these look amazing as do all of your cookies.

    While on the cookie topic- which one(s) on your Cookie recipe link would you recommended for shipping??

  45. Erin

    I made these cookies tonight…. oh my goodness. They are melt in your mouth delicious…. a must try. I was new to browned butter, and it was surprisingly pretty easy to make and made my house smell fabulous!!

  46. Kelly

    I just have to tell you that I’ve passed along your curried lentil/swiss chard recipe over and over again and everyone loves it. GREAT way to use leftover sweet potatoes. That one is a total keeper.

    I’ll try these cookies sooner than later. Yum.

  47. Salena

    These are delicious, and my apartment smells incredible! Yum. Deb, you are the cookie queen. Seriously, this blog has become my default for cookie recipes. :)

  48. Matt

    Hi Deb! Love the blog! I seem to have done something wrong with this recipe. After baking, taking a bite was akin to taking a bite of very find sand… I consider myself to be a decent baker, but I have no clue what happened with this. Dough didn’t really seem very moist. Any suggestions? (Keep up the good work!)

  49. YUM! Because these are eggless, I can bake a bunch for my best friend who is deathly allergic to eggs. This is the same friend who surprised me with the most wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, her very first, ever, we live in Australia. I miss Thanksgiving each year and she wanted to do something really nice for me this year. I told her she should have visited Smitten Kitchen to get ideas, but she did really well all on her own!

  50. Brooke

    I’m not sure what I did wrong on these, but mine melted all over the pan and then burned, but never got firm. I guess I will try again since other people seem to have had luck with them. The batter tasted fantastic. Not too sweet, which is right up my alley.

  51. I am already missing your “post every day in November” habits! I get on every morning to see what you posted last night and then sigh since there was nothing new! Sigh!

  52. Mary

    For those with no mixer – I have made all kinds of shortbread in my food processor. Amazing how well it works and how FAST! For those unfamiliar with browned butter, it is addictive and improves everything it touches, especially vegetables and pasta. Gnocchi with nothing but browned butter on it is heavenly; drizzle some browned butter on any steamed vegetable and it takes them to a whole new world!

  53. I’ve made brown sugar shortbread for years but this recipe with the browned butter? Yum. My first batch is in the fridge, chilling.

    The butter browning steps are exactly the same way I make ghee so anyone wanting to avoid the outrageous prices for prepared ghee might want to cook up some extra butter, strain it in to a clean jar and make up some tasty Indian food to eat before dessert.

  54. Sarah

    A little sad… despite being a pretty consistent baker and having double-checked the recipe (I did everything right, I think), my cookies bubbled and spread and became a sheet of odd but delicious buttery, sugary, bubbly crumble. Altitude? At 7000 feet, when something goes wrong in baking I just blame that. I suppose it could be something else though.

    I will put them on vanilla ice cream with carmel and toasted nuts. Ice cream saves the day!

  55. Kelly S.

    mm, these sound wonderful…i’ve seen so many good cookie recipies lately i’m wondering if i should bump my regular xmas cookie choice (mom bakes us each a batch of our cookie of choice), chocolate crinkles. I have to say that i mis NoBloPloMo. I liked new postings everyday!

  56. Alyssa

    I made these last night and the house STILL smells like buttery goodness. They are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee… But then again I think everything is good with coffee!

  57. Matt

    Don’t feel bad, Sarah. I made these the other night. While the batter was VERY tasty, it was kind of difficult to work with. I’d recommend freezing the dough for a bit before cutting and slicing it like you would if you’re making steak tartare with very thinly sliced meat. I’ll have to come back and try making these a second time because, right now, the texture is a bit grainy… almost sandy… although a very delicious sand (that brown butter really does get incredibly fragrant and nutty). I’m still looking forward to going home and eating a couple while I make dinner =)

  58. I just pulled a batch of these lovelies from the oven….mmmmm. I used gray sea salt and let me tell you, coming across a significant salty nugget every so often is the perfect flavor foil to the nutty butter and Demerara.

    Very difficult not to keep eating and eating and eating….

  59. Krista

    Oops, sorry. Ignore previous post. I reread the recipe. Mine seemed too sweet. I will try making these again. I think I must have made a mistake with the sugar. Might have used the wrong measuring cup (or eaten to much dough!). Thanks for the butter browning tips. That’ll help next time also.

  60. Meg

    I don’t know what happened but when I made these the cookies spread into each other and became one giant sheet of cookie which crumbled apart, it was still delicious but not cookies! Perhaps I cut them too thin and put them too close together?

  61. deb

    Sarah — It may indeed be an altitude issue. I know that the baking rules are quite different at higher altitudes–if I remember correctly (and I couldn’t find it upon a quick glance this morning) the Joy of Cooking has good tips about baking high above sea level, stuff like using less flour, etc.

    As for those of you who say that your cookies have come out sandy and spread, I am very concerned! These cookies are on the sandy side for shortbread, but they shouldn’t be spectacularly sandy. I have baked off two batches now, and find that they are the sandiest (and most fragile) when they’re hot out of the oven. Once they cool, they’re all crisp deliciousness.

    As for troubleshooting, I am wondering about a few things: a) perhaps more baking time. I am baking them a few minutes longer than suggested, but my oven also runs quite cool and I do this for every recipe. b) perhaps not all brown sugars are created equally? I would expect a more moist one to spread more, though I could be wrong. Are those of you having trouble using Domino (as I did?), or another brand?

    I’ll probably make another batch of these today or tomorrow and will see if I can come to more conclusions. On the upside, it does seem like the vast majority of you are having successes with these.

  62. The spreading problem could be due to using melted butter instead of letting it firm up first.

    Mine did not spread at all, but they did come out very sandy. I don’t think I baked them long enough and certainly didn’t let them cool. (My fault, as the instructions were pretty specific.)

    Still, the dough itself was quite dry. Should the dough be kind of crumbly? Or should it feel more like shortbread?

    Still, they were delicious with a bit of aged rum and now I want to try browned butter in some of my holiday cookies. Thanks for the inspiration!

  63. Amy

    I studied the recipe and all the comments, and while they smell incredible, my cookies spread waaayyyy too much and are almost completely flat. Letting them cool right now so I can taste one. Bummer.

  64. Mary

    On the subject of spreading cookies, I vote for the too soft butter and not cold enough dough solutions. I fiind that if I want thinner cookies I use soft or melted butter. If you want the cookies perfectly round, slice them with dental floss.

  65. deb

    Those of you having trouble with these cookies, can you help me out with a few things:
    * Are you using Domino brown sugar or another brand, and was it light or dark?
    * Was your browned butter firmed up and cold from the fridge when you whipped it?
    * Was the cookie log really cold and firm before you sliced it?

    I very much want to get to the bottom of this, but can’t for the life of me figure out — aside from those three things — what could cause such a handful of disasters when other people are sending me hate mail (joking) for causing them to make cookies so dreamy, they ate the whole batch of in one sitting. Heck, I’m about to write me some hate mail, these are so addictive. :)

  66. Fittsy

    I haven’t read all the comments to see if others’ problems are the same as mine, but those they tasted delicious,mine looked like thin lace snowflakes and were super fragile.

    * Are you using Domino brown sugar or another brand, and was it light or dark?
    Wal-Mart brand light brown sugar
    * Was your browned butter firmed up and cold from the fridge when you whipped it?
    Yes, it had been refrigerated for over an hour
    * Was the cookie log really cold and firm before you sliced it?
    Again, yes, refrigerated for over an hour

    Love your site. I’m a new reader and love the variety and enthusiasm of your cooking! Thanks for sharing with us!

  67. Amy

    Thanks so much for trying to solve the problem for us! I used Domino dark brown sugar, the butter was very firmed up, it was in the fridge for 1 1/2 hours, at least. The dough was thoroughly chilled. For the first pan of cookies, the dough had been in the freezer for about 45 minutes. For the 2nd pan, I left it in the refrigerator for at least 2 more hours. They turned out the same as the 1st pan. Still delicious, but not what I was looking for!

  68. Alice

    I made these today and they are wonderful. I will be making for gifts for teachers. Mine came out just like yours although not quite as dark as the picture. Maybe my butter wasn’t as brown but it had flakes of browned butter and and I think the flavor was perfect. Surely, can’t beat the flavor of these cookies. Thank you so much, I love your site.

  69. Matt

    I was using the Domino light brown sugar, and I didn’t wait for the butter to really start firmly “gelling.” I baked two batches — the ones that I cooked longer were definitely better. And that “sandy” texture I talked about from before is gone now. They just needed more time to cool, I suppose. 30 minutes out of the oven is not enough time — if you let them sit on the counter for a day or so in some tupperware, the texture issues solve themselves. I think it’s just because the ingredient list is so short that there’s so much room to potentially differ on the finer details that the recipe is causing a mini uproar. Don’t get me wrong, those cookies are awesome. You just need to tweak baking times accordingly (and have the patience to let your brown butter firm up a bit).

  70. Sarah

    Mine were quite like Amy’s. Lacy, crumbly, super good tasting, though (really dynamite on ice cream with other toppings). I, like Amy, let the brown butter cool until just firm (I even stuck it in the freezer for a couple of minutes before creaming with the brown sugar), and the dough was solid before slicing. The first batch I put straight from fridge to oven. As I saw them spreading, I sliced off the second batch, stuck them in the freezer for 10 minutes, then popped them in the oven. Same effect however. I’ve been snacking on the bits all day, so no harm done.

    Here’s where I love to blame altitude. :)

  71. Krista

    Mine didn’t spread much at all. I used a safeway brand dark brown sugar and let the butter get very firm. I also froze the dough before I cut and baked it, however, they crumbled and fell apart when I tried to cut them. I think I need to let the dough soften a bit out of the freezer next time. I am taking a second try at it right now. My butter is much browner this time.The cookies are a big hit with my hubby and kids.

  72. I made them this evening. They were fantastic. However, the dough was actually completely dry – there was no way it would’ve stuck together at all. I didn’t know what to do but I finally added two eggs to try to bind it together and it turned out well. I’m guessing that I chilled the butter too long so will see what happens next time. Regardless, they are definitely a keeper.

  73. deb

    Made a second batch of these last night and once again, I had no trouble at all. I wish I could figure out what was going on differently in the kitchens where people are struggling. :(

    They are definitely on the sandy side for a shortbread — this can be attributed to the brown sugar and the bits from the browned butter — but they did not spread or poof or bubble or whatnot. When the dough first came out of the fridge (it had been in for hours) it was a bit too firm, letting it warm up on the counter for 15 minutes made them easier to cut. I was careful and only one broke when I cut it, but I just squeezed it back together and it baked up fine.

    P.S. I also made them with salted butter and skipped the salt… heaven!

  74. Robyn

    My dough was pretty dry and crumbly, but I just smushed it all into a log and into the fridge overnight and they turned out GREAT! The smell is heaven, and so is the taste :)

  75. Emilie

    I had really sandy cookies – and although the batter tasted delicious, the end result was really disappointing.
    I used light brown sugar and no, the butter wasn’t as firm as it could have been when I started to mix in the rest of the ingredients. Maybe that was the mistake.
    The browned butter smelled amazing and even though I’m a first-timer to browning butter, I don’t think that was the problem. I’ll have to try the recipe again…

  76. Just whipped these up. Used about 3/4 tsp kosher salt and they tasted like salted caramel. I skipped forming and chilling the log and instead rolled balls of dough in raw sugar, smashed them with the bottom of a measuring cup and chilled them just until the oven was ready. The raw sugar stayed crunchy and the cookie got all crumbly. YUM!! The dry dough and sandy, short texture is good! That’s why it’s called “short” bread!

  77. Lin

    I’ve got the dough chilling in the fridge right now! I’ll leave it there over night.

    I just made another shortbread recipe recently and had the hardest time with the crumbly dough. I couldn’t even form it into a log! This dough formed up PERFECT, though! I think the difference is in having really cold butter.

    Can’t wait to bake these up!

  78. Butterball

    Browned butter is decadent for sure! I make a choclate sauce with browned butter & it is devine. It is perfect too when making caramel sauce. I bet these cookies would be perfect dipped in the sauce!

  79. I had the same problems as many others – thin, spreading cookies. I used Domino light brown sugar, let the browned butter completely harden and refrigerated the dough for an hour. It probably could have been further chilled, but I can’t imagine even after further chilling that they’d keep their shape as the photos here show. I was thinking of using this recipe as part of my Christmas cookie baking and wanted to do a test run. They smell and taste fantastic, but do not look at all like the photos.

  80. amy

    Mmmm! Thanks for once again sharing a simple but delicious recipe for us amateur bakers. I was so worried about getting a sheet of cookie like some reported but I didn’t! Success! The texture was fine. I used Stop ‘n’ Shop dark brown sugar, the butter was very firm and dough chilled for over an hour. However, I still don’t know about browned butter. This was my first attempt at it and … ? I had a great fragrance (but more popcorn than nutty) but no browning and no flecks. I kept it over the flame a bit longer because I thought I was doing it wrong; then I did have some “congealed” bits but that’s about it.

  81. elizabeth b.

    I’ve tried many of your recipes and all have been great except for this one. I feel like I wasted money, food and time. They don’t look like any of your pictures. The dough was more like a powder that was impossible to form. After finally forming it, chilling it and trying to cut it, the texture was like dried up Playdoh. I followed your instructions closely and didn’t substitute and ingredients.

  82. Sarah

    Made these earlier tonight and they are WONDERFUL! I had never browned butter before so I was nervous about it. It is definitely a distinct aroma once it gets to the right place. Everything came together beautifully. I had a hard time rolling them into a round log, so they’re a bit square, but who cares?? They are delectable. Thanks Deb!

  83. Caroline

    The first time I made these, I tried to halve the recipe and then forgot to halve the amount of butter (sigh-the short stubby sticks of butter confuse me!). Not surprisingly, the cookies ended up lacy and flat. The second time, I was more patient with the chilling and made the full recipe, and the cookies came out much like your photos (absolutely delicious too-thanks Deb!). Maybe for those having problems with thin, spreading cookies (and you notice the dough is on the stickier side), I would suggest adding proportional amounts of flour and sugar until the dough is a little on the dryer side but can still be formed into a log.

  84. Rebecca

    I tried these yesterday – delish!
    It took a bit longer to brown the butter, but I think I was stirring almost constantly instead of occassionally… once I let it sit for a minute on the stove, it browned quite nicely. I let the butter get quite firm. I used Domino’s dark brown sugar. At first, when mixing, it looked like it was too dry, but I decided to mix a bit longer and it came together nicely. I froze the roll (as I was so anxious to get them in the oven!). When slicing, I noticed they were a little soft, and spread a bit in the oven, but not too much. I tried one almost immediately (again, I couldn’t wait) and noticed the sandy texture, but it improved as it cooled. Very good reviews from my girlfriends (we get together every December for cookie baking), and from my husband and mother-in-law (she even asked me to make them for Christmas at her house – score!).

    All in all, a great success for me!

  85. Meredith

    I had no problem with these cookies and found them to be absolutely wonderful. One of the things I did was slice them and then keep the slices in the fridge while I waited to put the next sheet in the oven. It did take a little longer for the butter to brown, but I just kept a close eye on it.

  86. Bryn

    oh, oh, oh … pure toasty-buttery-salty-toothy heaven. cookie perfection. no, i’m not sharing, either.

    i did the browned butter the night before and left it to cool on the kitchen counter (thanks to our cold midwestern nights, it solidified back to stick-butter consistency).

  87. Jodie

    This are amazing. I’ve made 4 double recipes since you posted it. I didn’t have trouble with the cookies spreading. I did let the butter firm totally. I had to let the dough sit out for about 15 minutes so the sugar would stick and the dough was easier to slice. The cookies smell heavenly, are lovely and sandy and they’re ohhhhh…so good!
    They’re a little fragile, but so SO delicious! I make several hundred cookies every Christmas, and these will be added to my favorites. It’s so unusual to find a truly different cookie! Thanks

  88. D

    I just made the dough, and I was very surprised how long it took my Kitchen Aid mixer to make it “light and fluffy.” I also had my browned butter in the fridge for almost a week ready for me to make it. The time to beat the butter and sugar was way beyond what I thought it should take. I also just threw the log outside to cool – up here in Winnipeg, it’s chilly enough to cool quicker outside than in the fridge, so after 20 minutes it was firm. I wish I had dark brown, but I made them with regular Rogers golden brown sugar and they’re still yummy. We have not waited long enough, and they were a bit sandy, but previous posters said that will improve. I like them!

  89. Gee

    I made these cookies today because your pictures of them were so great and they looked yummy. Brown butter smelled delicious in my kitchen but I had the problem with other people that the cookies were rather sandy. I don’t have an electric mixer, so I don’t know if I beat the butter and sugar fluffy enough with my whisk. My dough was also paler, like Ian’s cookies rather than yours. They still were pretty good, however. Brown butter= love. I may try tweaking the recipe a bit in the future to yield a better cookie.

  90. Yael

    Esmeralda – I’ll try looking for those as well, thanks (apparently the Ikea store has a section where they sell Swedish foods, including sweets, and I suppose they might have Daim, but I don’t see myself travelling to Ikea any time soon, especially not for a chocolate toffee bar…). Looks like it’ll be a while before I make these cookies. Ah well.

  91. In a word: sublime. Loved these. The butter took 2 hours to be completely firm in my fridge. I let my dough harden overnight before slicing and baking. I baked half on parchment and half directly on the cookie sheet and in each case had no spreading.

  92. Amy

    This is my new favorite cookie. It has made me so selfish. I promised someone at work I would bring some in but I don’t want to. They should stay home and wait for me to come home and eat them. I used C&H dark brown sugar and salted butter. I didn’t skip the salt the first time…but no matter. They were still delicious. I let the butter firm up in the fridge before mixing. One question, is there a reason to wait until after refrigerating the dough to roll it in the sugar? I’m always impatient about waiting for the dough to warm a bit after chilling…I just want to get it sliced and in the oven baking so I can eat it!

    For the chefs with lacy-cookie-issues – I really think it is the butter not being cooled enough. I remember having chocolate chip cookies turn out lacy once because I melted the butter in microwave before mixing it. I even did it with oatmeal cookies once and it was even worse. I’ve learned my lesson to go with firm butter in the cookie department.

    My holiday wish is that everybody gets this one figured out because it’s so worth it. Thank you, Deb!

  93. HOLY CRAP! the flavor of these just rocked my world….absolutely amazing. These came out perfect, just like you said, Deb. thanks for posting such a fun little recipe!

  94. Jon

    it’s always somewhat true no matter what the cookies, but I made these along with a bunch of other cookies and sort of ran out of baking sheets–and I found that the use of different types of baking sheets produced drastically different results. A jelly-roll pan on its own produced the best result, the worst by a thin flat sheet pan with parchment paper on it. Obviously this is the case with many types of cookies, but the difference seemed more pronounced than usual with these tasty discs.

  95. Audrey

    These are addictive and delicious. I baked half of the dough (and froze the other half) the night before last and my husband and I devoured them. So last night we had to thaw the dough and finish the rest. A dangerous and easy new treat. I had never browned butter before, I love the flavor it adds.

  96. I made a batch today and they’re delicious. My butter didn’t brown as much as that in your photo but the taste was good. My only concern was how crumbly the dough was…I could barely form it into a log and even after chilling I had trouble keeping the cookies together. They held together perfectly during baking, though, and they taste great! I plan to try another batch and I’ll work the dough a little more before chilling.

  97. Jess

    I just made the dough and it is so crumbly that it won’t stay in the form of a log well enough to slice. I’m letting it chill more but now I’m wondering if it will ruin them if I put it back in the mixer and add an egg or something. I’m guessing that after I browned the butter there might have been enough left in the pan that I should’ve decreased the flour amount. Other than that I can’t figure it out. Browned butter nicely, used C&H dark brown sugar, the butter was very firm when I mixed it, so…

    I might wait until tomorrow to bake and see if more firming helps but I don’t want to ruin them by baking them too soon. Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

  98. Jess

    Well, baked them off and they taste fantastic! But, the dough was so crumbly that I couldn’t roll it into a log and it crumbled as I sliced them so I ended up kind of rolling each into a ball and then flattening into a disk into the sugar. They are very unattractive but the taste really is amazing. I will definitely try again and measure the butter and adjust flour accordingly to see if this is the problem. Thanks for the recipe!

  99. Heather

    I made these twice.

    1st attempt, I didn’t let the butter firm up enough and had lacy cookies.

    2nd attempt, I let the butter hang out in the fridge overnight and made sure the dough chilled long enough. They were wonderful!

  100. Okay, I had to come back again and say that these cookies just get better and better as the days go on. It’s tempting to nibble, nibble on these and eat them in a day. But if you can let them sit for a few days, you will be handsomely rewarded. Such wonderfully, caramelly, depth of flavor.

  101. Katie H

    Another idea for diagnosing the problem: the brand of flour. Protein content varies quite a lot between the major brands (King Arthur and Gold Medal for example) and perhaps that is what’s making the difference. Which are you using, SK?

  102. John

    I made a few batches (ok, six) trying to replicate the problems others encountered, and to figure out why they happened. And while I may not have found ALL the possible culprits, I’ve found two of them.

    Except for browning the butter, this recipe translates pretty closely to a normal shortbread recipe which shouldn’t ever have the two problems (fat separating so cookies spread flat, and dough crumbling and going sandy) that were described. Browning the butter makes three changes I can think of to a traditional shortbread recipe: It takes butter out of its normal emulsion state; it cooks off the water content of the butter (about one tablespoon per cube of butter); and it requires taking the butter from its hot liquid state back to a solid state.

    At first I assumed either of the first two differences would be key, and played around with reestablishing a butter emulsion (using half brown butter, cooling and beating it into regular butter before creaming), and replenishing some of the lost water (beating a little into the creamed butter just before incorporating the flour), but the results weren’t noticeably more stable than the base recipe. So I focused on the step of re-solidifying the browned butter, and managed to duplicate both the problems that others have had.

    If, after browning the butter, it is creamed with the sugar before it has been thoroughly chilled and returned to a homogenous, thoroughly solid (but not frozen) mass, the resulting dough tends to spread during baking, with some of the fat separating out.

    And if the butter is properly taken back to its solid state but then, after creaming it with the sugar the mix is then chilled again and taken too far (which is easy to do in the freezer), the flour doesn’t incorporate properly and turns the dough into the sandy, crumbly, unusable stuff that others described.

    So the key seems to be chilling the browned butter thoroughly in the refrigerator, and then working quickly to cream it and incorporate the flour without chilling it (or overchilling it) any further. I’ve found that pretty easy to do by cooling the hot, browned butter in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, stirring a few times as it starts to solidify so the browned solids get disbursed evenly, and to promote a consistent mass once it fully chills.

    With the flour and sugar pre-measured and beside the mixer, I then beat the butter slowly for just a few seconds, add the sugar and bring the speed steadily up to medium-high, beating until it is light and fluffy (the texture of light frosting), scraping the sides and bottom once midway through so all the butter is incorporated into the creamed mix, and adding the salt and vanilla toward the end. With the mixer off I add the flour, pulse the mixer to start blending in the flour, then mix slowly until the dough changes to a noticeably darker color and begins coming together.

    It can then immediately be placed onto wax paper and formed into cylinders for chilling, cutting and baking.

  103. Another note on the dough – mine held together well enough to be rolled into a log. I then put in the fridge (I figured they’d be easier to cut when cool) and removed the log about an hour later. Suddenly, the dough was quite crumbly – it fell apart when I tried to roll the sugar in. Actually, I had similar problems (less extreme) with your other slice cookie recipe.

    The batch was saved somewhat by brushing the log of dough with a vanilla liquor and then rolling it more gently in the sugar. This was successful with the second batch, so it’s possible the dough just warmed up a bit?

    Just thought I’d share my results. The second batch is beautiful and even the ugly first batch tastes great. I’ll be trying the recipe again soon.

  104. Odalis

    Deb, I am making these cookies for a cookie exchange and did a test run over the weekend. They got rave reviews and I did not have any of the problems listed above! The first time around, I don’t think I let the butter brown like I was supposed to but this batch, I know I got it right. I can’t wait to see if these are even better!

  105. Celeste

    After reading about the problems some people have been having, I baked a test batch of 4 cookies first and they spread like crazy. However, I was able to solve the spreading problem by baking the cookies at a lower temperature (250) for 20 min. (Same batch of dough, both times.) The cookies spread a tiny bit, but not much. I thought I’d pass this on as a possible solution for people who’ve been having problems, because these cookies are too delicious to miss out on…

  106. Maggie

    Delicious! I was unsure of when my butter was browned enough, but the taste makes me think I did alright. Also, rather than roll the dough, which was very crumbly for me, I kind of made a rectangular log. The cookies didn’t spread at all for me. Half the dough is in the fridge for later.

  107. May

    I know you’ve made the World Peace Cookies, and I got this result once when I accidentally baked them at 350F instead of 325F.

    So for the second tray, I turned down the temp, and it seems to help. It still spread, but not as much. At least I have separate cookies instead of one massive tuile-like thing.

    And the recipe for the dough for both recipes is rather similar. Butter creamed, add sugar, then flour.

  108. debra

    I just ate my first one, and can’t wait to eat another one. My 65 year old mother said “that was the best cookie I have ever had!”
    Thanks for this wonderful recipe.
    (by the way, I followed your directions exactly and my cookies turned out perfect)

  109. 1st time I made these: butter was poured into a Pyrex measuring cup to harden overnight in the refrigerator. The next day I made the dough and put it in the freezer for a week. Then they went into the refrigerator overnight to thaw. I sliced and baked them into bubbling brown puddles. So sad. For the 2nd time I made these, I again poured the melted butter into a Pyrex measuring cup and put it in the refrigerator. Kept stirring it every 10 minutes or so until it was thick but not all the way hard. I added the sugar and made the dough, rolled into a log and refrigerated for about 40 minutes. They sliced and baked perfectly. Very delicious and really easy. Thank you!

  110. Jennifer

    Aww, I also got flat cookies. But after they had cooled completely, they were less delicate and the flavor was so spot-on. Salty and sweet and perfect for me. I’ll try them again some other time, maybe with a bit less butter and a lower temperature. This was the first time I’d ever used raw sugar, and I loved the crunch it gave so much that I was inspired to sprinkle raw sugar and some sliced almonds on top of a dried fruit coffee cake I made the same day. Crunchy, sweet goodness. :)

  111. I just made these cookies — resulted in very tasty, pretty tuile-like cookies that fall apart like sand when picked up. They taste wonderful but are too crumbly to give away as gifts. Not really sure what I’m going to do with them — I have enough going on calorie-wise right now that I don’t need to give myself an excuse to buy vanilla ice cream. :) I allowed the browned butter to chill for about three hours. It was completely solid (hard, actually) when I added it to the sugar. I allowed the dough to cool for 20 minutes or so before forming the log, and once the log was formed, I chilled the dough overnight. The dough slices were still cold when they went into the oven. I read all of the comments and thought I had followed everyone’s suggestions, and they still came out badly (though not as bad as some reports, I think). It is really a shame because they taste SO GOOD! If anyone can find a more reliable brown butter cookie recipe, let us know!!

  112. Just made these today. I think I needed to brown my butter a little more (it was my first try, and I didn’t want to screw it up). These are wonderful. They were very sandy just out of the oven, but then they firmed up to total deliciousness. This cookies is going to be a part of my baking life forever. I think if people had spread, it’s because the butter wasn’t fully chilled.

  113. Just wanted to say that I made these last night (in spite of the ‘yield’…have been staring at them for weeks) and thought they turned out beautifully and are absolutely delicious. The way I formed my log led to smaller cookies and lighter ones (light brown sugar), but no falling apart or spreading or anything listed above happened (and I am far from a baking expert). These and your twice-baked shortbread are very high on my “go-to” cookies list. Thanks. :)

  114. eg

    Mine took forever to cook and were still falling apart but they smelled really good. I will definitely try them again when I am off this stupid diet and can taste one to see how they came out. (I think my ancient mixer did not do a good enough job of beating the sugar and butter together.)

  115. I also tried these despite the yield and they turned out great. Next time I will brown the butter more.

    I cooled the butter completely in the fridge to nearly the hard consistency and mixed the sugar and butter very very well. The cookies broke apart when I cut the roll, but firmed up beautifully after cooling.

  116. trolley

    I made some modifications to the recipe and it seems to have worked out. I added 1/2 tsp baking powder then increased the flour to about 1 3/4 cups. instead of refrigerating the butter I added the sugar while the butter was warm. When it was all done I placed in the fridge for about 2 hrs. BTW, love your blog! I’ve been a long time fan/lurker and always melt at anything browned butter!

  117. Jennifer

    Yeah, that might be a potential fix, adding an acid like baking powder or cream of tartar to lower the temperature at which the cookie sets? So it sets its shape before it has chance to spread so much perhaps. I’ll try to take a whack at it some time soon.

  118. trolley

    I forgot to add one detail…I did refrigerate the dough but made them as drop cookies and added dark chocolate chips to the batter . i have some dough leftover and feel that the longer it rest the better the cookies might be. I’ll bake up the batch tomorrow morning and see how it compares.

  119. Melissa

    I made these wonderful cookies exactly as instructed (except my butter ended up getting refrigerated overnight), and they came out fabulous. No separating, no graininess, and they didn’t fall apart.

    I have some dough left over…maybe I’ll go bake off a couple before my husband gets home!

  120. These are my favorite cookie, seriously one of the top 5 things i’ve ever eaten.
    I made over the holidays and I have thought about them multiple times a day since, crazy crazy yummy. I will make them again soon, when I can at least give away half because I’ll eat them all.
    I’m making your rice pudding as I type this:)
    Thank you for bringing these into my life!

  121. Becky H

    To all those living at altitude and/or having problems with these cookies spreading:

    I took the advice of John (Comment #166) and the cookies turned out wonderfully! Since I’ve moved to Denver, oftentimes cookies high on the butter or low on the flour turn into puddles (the World Peace Cookies, for example, which were still delicious, just much more wafer-like than I would have liked). I didn’t have any spreading problems this time, and I think I have John to thank.

    And holy cow, these cookies are delicious!

  122. Jo

    Just wanted to thank you for posting this recipe. I found your blog recently, and these cookies just turned what would have been a VERY long rainy day into a fun cooking day. I made them with a 4 year old to ward off the rainy day blues, and had a blast. I even loved the fact that there were breaks…it helped stretch the day out with a playdate in the first break, and lunch in the second. Our cookies came out very light compared to yours, more like regular shortbread….probably my fault for not browning the butter long enough, it was my first time doing that, and i was nervous about burning it. Other then that, no issues whatsoever, they came out without any of the problems others have had!

  123. deirdre

    I have made these twice. The first time they came out perfectly. So delicious. The second time the dough didn’t stay together and I think I know why…. I let the butter chill too long and it got too firm and cold. I will make sure next time to follow your directions precisely… you DID say “until just firm” :)

  124. deirdre

    oh, I just read John’s very helpful post above… I think my fridge is set too cold. My dough chilled too much and got all sandy.

  125. Cali

    Yeah. So, I ended up with the lacy, flat, bubbly cookies too- and sadly, Im in NYC, so I cant blame the altitude. I consider myself a pretty decent baker and I took John’s advice so who knows…. On the upside, mine arent overly fragile and theyre still delicious (just not shortbready)!

  126. Jen M

    I just made my first batch of these today, and while they did end up a little lacy they are wonderful. Plus i think the lacy texture looks rather nice. They are still rather stable. Thank you for sharing the recipe :o)

  127. Ashby

    These are on my top-5 cookies ever list. And they’re definitely “make just for me” cookies, but not because they’re unlovable (oh no) but because they’re TOO special to share. Brown butter? Holy cow! And my entire kitchen smells delicious each and every time I make them.

    I avoided the lacey, flat cookie issue (which happened the first time) by cutting them straight out of the fridge (or freezer, even better) so they were really cold when they were cooked. I made sure the butter was quite firm before incorporating. And I used parchment paper. The past 3 times I’ve made them, no problem. Mine are really dark though.

  128. Lauren

    Sooooo…just to jump on this wagon; I made these last night and they lived up to my fairly pessimistic expectations by turning out flat, lacey AND sandy! They were still yummy, though. The dough was pretty much straight from a night in the freezer but I think my error lay in not letting the browned butter get cool enough after cooking. Will try again though as the flavour was great, maybe next time rolling them in coarse salt mixed with raw sugar – anyone tried that?

  129. Kristen

    Hey – These cookies turned out GREAT for me. I have been searching high and low for a sugar cookie recipe. My great-grandmother made the best, but she never wrote down any of her recipes. She died in 1985, and up until tonight, I had not tasted a sugar cookie which was as good as hers. This recipe was very easy for me and I did not have any problems. I am so glad I found your site, and I look forward to trying more of your recipes. :)

  130. Sarah

    I’ve been baking since I was five and followed John’s directions but they still spread so badly that I didn’t even bother finishing their time in the oven. Oh, well. It was worth a shot!

  131. Made these today! They didn’t spread, but the “dough” was more like the consistency of sand. I just pressed it together into a log and chilled it well, which worked out ok. The slices were fragile and wanted to crumble, but I pushed the pieces together and crossed my fingers. It worked! Delicious delicious delicious.

    The only thing I couldn’t get to work was that the demarara sugar would. not. stick to the outside of the log. I compromised by sprinkling some on the top, which worked out alright, but they weren’t nearly as pretty as yours. Any ideas?

  132. Victoria

    Just wanted to say that this recipe is amazing and despite my doubts about the consistency of the dough, the cookies turned out delightfully. It’s amazing how much depth the brown butter brings to their flavour. Thanks for this recipe! :D

  133. Darlene

    I just made these for the first time. They are great!! They are a ncie cookie without being over sweet. I proceeded with caution and decided to add an egg and about 1/4-1/3 cup more flour to the dough because it seemed a bit dry.

  134. Emily

    Yummy, I’m planning on making these this weekend. Quick question: When we’re chilling the butter, do we want it to be completely firm or just barely firm? Because I normally leave my butter out for a couple hours to soften up when I make cookies, but the commenters have implied that you should thoroughly chill the (browned) butter.

  135. deb

    This recipe is uses browned butter — melted and toasted butter — so it would be liquid otherwise and needs to be firmed up before it can be made into cookies.

  136. Sam

    I made these tonight and they turned out fabulous, even straight from the oven. I followed the recipe exactly and didn’t have any problems with spreading. They’ve got to be one of my top 5 fav. cookies.

  137. Sara

    I think the reason people have problems is the directions to beat until light and fluffy. Butter for shortbread is usually beaten just until smooth and combined with the sugar. You don’t want air in it. Less beating would stop the spreading.

  138. Allison

    oh my goodness, fabulous! I just pulled these out of the oven (I couldn’t wait, I’m sorry) and they are honestly fantastic. I added a smidge of maple extract to the mix, which I think adds a nice extra fall flavor to these tasty shorties. They’re still a little sandy (it seems that may clear up as the cookies cool) but… really delicious.

    I would have had a few more to bring to my women’s group tonight, except the batter was irresistible.

    Additionally, I burnt my butter a little while browning, and also didn’t use a mixer (it’s on my list of things to get, I just have always lived with someone who already had one, haha)… and still, fabulous!

  139. Elizabeth

    I made these cookies this week to bring into the office (despite your warnings that an ugly cookie should not go public) and they were a HUGE hit. Six emails asking me to pass on the recipe – I’m just going to send them to this site.

    But here are a couple of pointers regarding brown butter and your statement of caution at the end of the recipe:

    – I burned my first batch of brown butter because I kept thinking, “Well maybe just a *little* browner.” But it didn’t occur to me that the hot pan would keep cooking the fragile butter as I carried it TWO feet to transfer to a bowl. So as soon as those little specks start to turn brown, take the pan off the heat right away – they’ll turn a bit browner (mine was a pretty reddish brown) by the time you transfer it to the bowl to cool.

    – Also, my first batch did spread a bit, but I found that it was because my oven wasn’t quite hot enough and the butter was melting before the other ingredients could bake. So I turned it up to about 360-375 and took them out a little sooner. The result was perfectly shaped, not-flat cookies.

  140. Julie

    I just made these again – my first batch did spread but that was my own fault — I added a little more softened butter because the dough seemed way too dry. Although they spread they were delicious which made me determined to try another time. This second batch I just went with the dry dough and they turned out perfect! Outstanding.

  141. Tatiana

    I made these cookies and they came out yummy. I did not brown the sugar as much apparently, because while they had that nutty flavor as you describe; it was just not enough. I brought these to work along with your white chocolate oatmeal cookies (which were more of a hit than these). Anyway, those people do not know what they were missing. I love them – it is certainly my kind of cookie. But I think it might need a dip in a caramel sauce of some sort… Thanks!

  142. Jackie

    While I am a decent cook, I don’t consider myself a baker and I made these this evening because the recipe and the cookie looked so simple and delicious. Plus all of the comments are so positive. I proved again why I am not a baker. I followed the recipe ever so carefully, they came out of the oven very, very thin, and I let them cool for several minutes. But when I lifted each one from the pan it fell into pieces. The crumbs are delicious! What can be better than butter, sugar, and flour crumbs! Wow, what do I do with these crumbs? But more importantly, what could have possibly gone wrong?

  143. trolley

    hey deb,
    i know this is an old post but just want to say these were a disaster for me. i baked them forever and they came out sandy globs. i followed the recipe to a tee and somehow they just did not stick together. now what to do with a pile of cookie sand that tastes really amazing.

  144. trolley

    unfortunately i read the caution afterwards. i’m an avid baker and actually went to baking school so i’m definitely not new to mishaps with recipes. i’ve also made all of your recipes with success but this one. i do make cookies like the alton browns chocolate chip cookie which uses melted butter and i actually make a brown sugar cookie that i use the melted butter almost warm so not sure if it was a fat problem. and i did cool the butter and put in the fridge for an hour or a little more. but it’s recipes like this one which leaves me puzzled b/c how does it work for some and not for others? hmmmm…now back to shoveling delicious buttery sand in my mouth!

  145. Claudia

    This is the second recipe I tried from smittenkitchen and the cookies were lovely. I am a novice to brown butter and I think I took my butter off the stove too soon – it smelled a little nutty and had a few brown specks but doesn’t look like the picture. Despite this, I followed the directions exactly and the result was an absolutely delicious batch of flavorful, buttery cookies that went over very well with my russian class. I am making them again today and hopefully I will be more brave when it comes to browning the butter.

    Thank you for you wonderful website.

  146. S.

    I made these and while they didn’t melt into a puddle, they were very crumbly and sandy. I think part of it was maybe my butter was too cold/solid and therefore the brown sugar didn’t dissolve, resulting in the sandy-ness? And I think the crumbly part might be that I used a hand mixer who’s only speed is “super fast” so it might have aerated the dough more that it was supposed to (the dough looked “fluffier” than it probably should have). That’s my guess anyway.

    Regardless, my mom loved these so I might try these again. Thanks for the recipe!

  147. Sharon

    Hi All. Made these cookies this weekend. The dough surprised me once mixed… really seemed more like a cheesecake crust base than a cookie dough. However, worked through it mashing and forming into a log, wrapped in wax paper and chilled in fridge for a couple of hours. I sliced off a dozen and baked at 350. My cookies did not spread… at all. They baked up nice and the taste was pretty darn good. Hubby and I ate the whole dozen. Went back to night to make another dozen. Couldn’t get a cooke to stay whole to get to the cookie sheet. Baked up and as I tried to remove from sheet they pretty much just crumbled. We ate the crumbles… mostly with a spoon. They tasted just as great. I think next time I’ll make all the cookies the same day I make the dough as I wonder if the extra fridge time was too much. My houses still smells wonderful from the browning of the butter yesterday. I hope Heaven smells like browned butter, cinnamon and vanilla.

  148. Holly

    I made these yesterday with little changes after reading the reviews: (1) The butter needed two hours to solidify in the fridge (2) I had to add a little less than 1/4 of a cup to the dough because it was really dry when I done mixing all the ingredients together and I couldnt form a proper log without it (3) I chilled the dough over night and baked them in the morning (4) and I turned the heat down a little to 350* F and baked them for 15 minutes. Everyone in my office loved them!

  149. Rebecca

    I just made these. Mine also came out pretty sandy and falley-apartey, but still SO GOOD. What is the ideal texture for these?

  150. In the process of making these for the fourth time – yikes! Followed the directions exactly (including the chill times) and they come out perfect every time. No falling apart, no sandy texture, just oh-so-delicious cookies. Thanks Deb!

  151. Symphonic Chef

    I used light brown sugar and they were very tasty but they looked so much lighter colored than yours. (I mean, I know that’s obvious, but I didn’t realize how drastic the difference would be.) No troubles, but thanks for the “yellow light”, because it encouraged me to read the comments well and see what the potential issues were and how to avoid them. (Reason #1 why SK beats a cookbook anyway!!)

  152. Juliana

    Just made these and I think I just found my new favorite cookie! They turned out wonderful! I used 1/2 dark and 1/2 light brown sugar (ran out of dark) and the browned butter ended up in the fridge for a couple of days instead of hours. They didn’t spread and (after just tasting another one) may or may not be described as sandy – frankly I like them the way they are!

    Thanks Deb for yet another fabulous recipe – I can always trust what I find here and greatly enjoy your site! Thanks for all the time you put into this!

  153. Chloe

    I made these tonight in preparation for a British friend’s visit tomorrow, and while they didn’t end up looking like yours, Deb, they tasted fantastic and were chewy, almost reminiscent of toffee. The butter, while it did smell nutty, didn’t brown very much and consequently led to a lighter-coloured cookie. I also didn’t have demerara sugar, so I rolled the dough in sweetened shredded coconut, which added a nice dimension to the cookies. Overall, I’d say these were awesome, and I know I’ll have to hide some before my brother comes home from work, since he’ll likely devour all of them. I’m not even going to mention how many I ate, but it is more than three.

  154. lisa

    i just made these but found the dough too crumbly to roll into a log (try as i might). i’m not sure what i’m doing wrong.
    so, i put into a 9×13 prex dish and am chilling the dough now.
    i hope they turn out! (fingers crossed) :)

  155. These look fabulous and ridiculously delicious. I am about to whip down to the shop and get the ingredients. I am looking foward to a wonderfully scented kitchen by the time the minis arrive home from school.

  156. Pip

    I’ve made these twice now – first time with browned butter, second time just with regular butter. The first batch were unbelievably sandy and friable, but tasted nice – just an odd texture. The second batch were great! But without the brown butter flavour…. But apart from the butter, all the ingredients were identical each time.
    So I think it’s browning the butter that’s resulting in the sandyness that people report. I must admit I didn’t let the butter solidify completely again after browning, and will make another batch trying that. I will master these! I really want the texture of batch 2 with the flavour of batch 1… Having said this, Husband has eaten both batches with every appearance of enjoyment.

  157. New cook

    I just made these with the browned butter. They are absolutely perfect! They look just like yours in the pictures. I followed your instructions exactly and they did not spread and are wonderfully delicate but not too crumbly. It is important to let the oven pre-heat fully. I have had problems with spreading before when I am in too much of a hurry and try to put things in to soon. These are my new favorite cookies!! Thanks!

  158. Lynna

    So… brown sugar and butter are two of my favorite things, and these cookies showcase the flavors of both SO well. These are my new favorite cookies. They turned out perfect for me. I was wondering – and I’m not an expert baker by any means – if packing the flour too firmly could result in the overly crumbly/dry dough hat some have described? I’ve read that you should spoon the flour into the measuring cup and then gently level it off to avoid getting too much flour. Just a thought.

  159. Darlynne

    Add my voice to those who made these cookies without any difficulty today. Because I live above 5000 feet, I baked them for only eight minutes, which was just right. John’s suggestion (#166) of stirring the browned butter as it chilled seemed like a good idea, although I couldn’t say if that made a difference. In any event, these are great cookies and I hear the siren song of the milk in my refrigerator so I have to leave now. Thanks for another excellent recipe.

  160. Melanie

    This is the third time I made these – and I finally got the right dough consistency. I think the key was finding the patience to wait for the butter to chill properly. These are my FAVORITE cookies!!! SO delish!

  161. Darlynne

    Now that I’ve made these cookies a second time (as well as the Blondies with dark chocolate, almond extract AND dried cherries) I have to say again how fabulous they are. The smell is luscious. Still mixed the butter as suggested above as it chilled, still only 8 minutes baking time because of our altitude, and on parchment paper. The cookie sheet without parchment paper was no different. Perfect again.

  162. Courtney

    I think this recipe is but a scheme to get me eating pure butter by the spoonful. Since I enjoy the frozen dough about as much as the hot cookie, the freezer trick does little to keep me from eating them all. But it is handy to whip up a few fresh cookies with a pot of coffee whenever someone happens through my door. I made this dough yesterday for the second time. They were usable though a bit crumbly the first time around, so I added about a tablespoon of butter (yes, more butter), and I threw in some toasted pecans I happened to have in the cupboard. I also substituted a bit of whole wheat flour. I think Lynna is right; packing the flour would lead to dangerous territory with these cookies. These things are blissful, not to mention incredibly easy to make and clean up.

  163. Jenny

    I have to say, I made these for the first time, not being particularly cautious about anything, and they came out perfectly. I even microwaved the solidified brown butter a bit before I started creaming it b/c I thought it’d be too solid to cream, and even that didn’t screw anything up.

    – I did turn the mixer off when 2/3 of the flour was in the bowl, and then added the rest and combined by hand
    – I made sure to mix the dough thoroughly until it really adhered to itself and there were no crumbly bits. Maybe building the gluten a little helps these?
    – I rolled the logs in the sugar BEFORE I chilled them in the fridge– that’s always how my mom has handled sugar-coated slice-type cookies, and that removes the extra cumbersome step of having to take the from the fridge, let them warm, and then roll them in the sugar.

    They’re out of the oven and the brown butter smell is INTOXICATING right now… I can’t wait to try one! I had to try hard not to play with the recipe aka add nuts, maple extract, cardamom… now that I know how easy these are, there are so many possibilities!

  164. Jenny

    PS: I just dropped one of these on the floor en route to a cooling rack and it remained solid! So definitely no delicacy/breakage issues here. Granted, they’ve been cooling for about 5 minutes on the sheet, but yeah. Seems all systems go to me.

  165. Charity

    I just made these last night and they are soooo deliciously good! But I did experience spreading like some other bakers. But I am not sure that it is a bad thing. As the cookies came out kind of thicker than a lacey cookie (but thinner than Deb’s) and they are still divinely yummy! The browned butter has the best smell.

    Here is what I did to try to prevent spreading: froze the dough, used a cool (not hot out of the oven) cookie sheet, and really chilled the browned butter. If it means browning less of the butter to not get a spreaded cookie, then I am not doing it. These are just so good anyway even if they are thin and a bit fragile. Love them!

  166. OK…so I say Brown Butter and Brown Sugar…knew I had to give these simple ingredients a go. I am happy I did. I can say that I think I know what the prob is with some people that had the cookies “fall apart”. Things I did wrong…I used light brown sugar (i was out of dark) and I didnt wait for the butter to completely solidify. I think if I waited the sugar and butter mixture would have creamed properly…mine was runnier than it should have been. I bet using dark brown sugar also makes a enough of a differnce to affect the texture as well. Since my dough was a little too wet…I added more sugar and flour and acheived a nice result. Nice enough to have eaten almost half of these babies in one evening! Just had two with breakfast! I couldnt resist. The brown butter flavor is soooo yummy! I cant wait to make these again…the right way :-)

  167. I made these as part of my 25 Days of Christmas Cookies. They seemed to easy not to bake and I’m so glad I tried them! They are definitely a cookie for the grown ups and so yummy with a cup of tea. Mine didn’t turn out nearly as nice looking, though!

    I brought them in to work and the masses were pleased with them as well. An unexpected delight!

    Thanks for the recipe!

    -Emily

  168. Shaun

    Hi – Wondering what types of butter people are using in this recipe. Is it worth buying really expensive special butter? Or does the browning step contribute more flavor than the brand or type of butter itself?

  169. Charity

    Okay, I am revising my thoughts on this recipe and my earlier comment. I am now putting this recipe in my “do not make” pile. Using the exact same batch, baking sheet, and oven I made these last night and they were horrible. Spread even more and burned on the edges. Though I used the same amount of time as before. And my oven was the same temp (I always use a thermometer in the oven.) The only difference was these had been in the freezer (wrapped in freezer paper and aluminium foil) for 3 days instead of 2 hours. I just threw out the entire batch. Awful waste of glorious browned butter.

    But I will make more SK recipes though!

    Shaun: I used Stoneyfield Organic Unsalted Butter.

  170. Robert

    I just made these cookies for the first time and they came out just fine. If you pull the butter from the heat when it starts to brown, you can better regulate the consistency of the brown butter. It’ll keep cooking in the hot pan. The graininess happens when some of the butter solids burn because you aren’t stirring enough. Those burned bits will wreck the texture of the cookie. You really do need to refrigerate the butter for an hour to get it solid enough to cream.

    When you cream it with the brown sugar, beat as much air in it as you can. It probably is easier to do with a whisk or wooden spoon in a bigger bowl than you think you need. The color will get real light, real fast and start to cover the bottom of the bowl. When it’s fluffy like icing, start adding the other ingredients. You can beat the first half of the flour in well, but barely mix in the second half by hand. Form the dough in the wax paper and refrigerate for an hour.

    When you slice and bake, work quickly so the dough doesn’t heat up too much. Bake until they just brown and, if you treated the ingredient right, they should turn out perfect every time.

  171. I just finished a batch of these and they came out great – the texture is really wonderful. Here’s what I did:

    * Browned the butter, only stirred once or twice while it browned, and put it in the fridge for about 10 hours. (I used Whole Foods 365 Brand butter.)

    * When I started to mix, the butter was cold and firm – I didn’t let it get to room temp.

    * I only mixed the butter and sugar (I used dark brown Domino) on the lowest setting with the paddle attachment on my KitchenAid, and just until the mixture looked like the consistency of wet sand. Confession here: I’m a culinary school grad, and I really don’t get why the recipe calls for beating the butter and sugar together until it’s pale and fluffy. You don’t need the leavening produced by that method; you don’t need to incorporate eggs; and overbeating encourages spreading. So, this is where I didn’t do what the recipe instructed. I used the paddle attachment for the same reason – I thought the whisk would whip too much air into it.

    * Once I mixed in the flour, the dough looked really crumbly – that’s where I started to worry. I ended up taking the dough out of the mixer and put it on a cutting board to blend it by fraisage (with the heel of my hand) to bring it together.

    * Chilled the dough log for just over one hour.

    * Baked for 10 minutes. (I put the unbaked cookies immediately in the oven after slicing, and didn’t rechill them before baking.) My oven is kind of slow so I believe the actual temp was around 330 – 340 degrees. Also I used parchment paper. I used the same cookie sheet, and just let it cool between batches, until it was warm and no longer hot.

    I’m planning a baking extravaganza this weekend and I’ll make several batches of these for some holiday parties I have coming up. I’ll report if anything different happens.

  172. Jen

    Holy crap – these are even better than your world peace cookies, which I didn’t think was possible! Oh, and my dough was crumbly, but I sliced the cookies with a sharp knife & put back together any that fell apart. Once baked & cooled, they were fine… and to die for. I’m not giving these away to the coworkers – keeping them all for myself!

  173. Just wanted to report back: I made this recipe six times over the weekend. (Whew!) I had a little spreading with one batch, and I am very sure it was because I overbeat the sugar and butter. (I chilled the slices before baking with all six batches.) The other five batches, I beat the butter and sugar only to the consistency of wet sand and did not let it get creamy, fluffy or pale. They consistently came out great.

  174. Lee

    New to your site, it’s my new favorite!

    So I made one batch of these plain, and I made one batch with a couple sprigs of rosemary in the butter while it browned. I put a leaf of rosemary on each cookie before it baked. Absolutely, uniquely delicious. Using for Xmas cookies, yum!

  175. karen

    I love that two years later… you’re still getting comments on this cookie! :) I’m on my 500th or so batch of these, and I finally had one of those bummer batches people mention! they have come out every time before, so today, I’m blaming the weather! Still tasty though, so I’m going to use a previous commenter’s suggestion and crumble it over some vanilla ice cream later!

  176. Katy Newton

    I am quite keen on the idea of making these and half dipping them in chocolate as presents, but I’m not sure whether coating them with chocolate would undermine the taste of the brown butter?

    1. deb

      Katy — I think it’s not needed. That said, please check my warning above before making these as gifts. Most people have raving successes with the cookies. Some people consistently do not and we haven’t gotten to the bottom of the issue. (I’m doing some retests myself this week.)

  177. Krystle

    Despite the caution, i had to try these out. On the upside, I didn’t have the issue of the cookies spreading; they maintained their shape completely – I chilled the butter until completely solid and followed the tip about not beating the butter and sugar too much, and preheated my oven 30 min in advance just to be sure it was hot enough.

    however, the dough was so dry and sandy that it was nearly impossible to roll into a log. i managed to do so by wrapping it in parchment paper first and then forming it into a log while in the paper. although my “log” wasn’t uniform or pretty, it sufficed. After about an hour of chilling the dough, i attempted to cut it. When the knife passed halfway through the log, the cookie consistently broke – im guessing the dough was too dry. i just pressed the pieces back together and baked my oblong little cookies :) waiting for them to cool as i write this, so we’ll see how they set.
    I’m not the most experienced baker but I’ve read that the ingredient ratios for shortbreads are 3:2:1 (flour:butter:sugar). I wonder if since this recipe has 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cup flour, it make sense to increase the butter from 1.5 sticks (3/4 cup), to 2 full sticks (1 cup). Thoughts?

    Can’t wait to try out more of your recipes, deb!

  178. Katy Newton

    Thanks Deb – I think you must be right, I just tasted the dough and WOW. No chocolate required! I’m doing a test batch because of the spreading issue – the dough logs are very very soft, it must be said. I’m freezing them for a couple of hours – in the hope that they will sort themselves out, but frankly if they spread and break and I end up with delicious buttery crumbs I am sure I will find something to do with them (applying them to my face by the handful is currently top of the list)

  179. Katy Newton

    In short: have sliced and baked 12, which turned out perfectly: no noticeable spreading and so intensely brown-buttery that I’m afraid to bake the rest of them. Really superb.

    For the record – I browned the butter and left it in the fridge for about three hours, so it was very cold and firm when I took it out. I mixed it with the sugar until it was sandy but not too whipped and creamy. After the flour went in what I had was basically moist breadcrumbs and it took a fair bit of squidging to get it into two log shapes, by which time the butter had obviously melted again and they were very soft. I froze both of them for an hour and a half, after which I baked the 12 I’ve referred to on baking parchment at Gas Mark 3.5 for 12 minutes. They were very soft and fragile when they came out of the oven; after ten minutes they are distinctly harder and will get harder still as they cool.

    Absolutely delicious, thank you so much for posting this.

  180. Judy

    I am chilling a batch of these cookies, right now! If this is an indication, of how fabulous these,cookies are, the cookie dough tastes, marvelous! I could eat them just the way they are,but I promise I will bake them when its time. OOOOh! I can hardly wait.

  181. Judy

    I just wanted to add(My cookies came out fabulous btw!) I kind of made a mistake and added the brown sugar to the hot,browned butter. The sugar turned gloppy and the mixture had a greasy oil slick on top. I thought that it was ruined, but I chilled it, and it hardened to a brick! I stirred it by hand until it warmed up and softened added the vanilla and then slowly adding the flour, in three parts, only stirring until just blended, the dough came together, very nicely. I then rolled and chilled, as the instructions directed. The dough sliced, wonderfully and the cookies, did not spread,during baking, after cooling they were delicate with a perfect crumb. I did not use a mixer, because I don’t have one. These were my most successful, cookies, ever! The only problem was, they did not last,past, cooling!

  182. These didn’t spread in the oven at all. The first tray came out and was gone before the second tray was halfway done.

    They’re fairly sandy, just sweet enough, and I’m tempted to throw a party so I can make these again.

  183. Annalise

    I just made these as a gift/bribe for graduate advisor, who described them as the best cookies she has ever had in her life-the perfect combination of texture, colour and flavour. Brown butter makes almost everything better, and these are definitely staying in my repertoire. Thanks so much Deb-your recipes have never let me down!

  184. I just made these today, they came out delicious!! sandy, salty, caramel-y. my final dough was very crumbly, but after chilling, it sliced just fine. note: I beat the almost-completely-but-not-quite chilled browned butter with “panela” (peruvian dark brown sugar, a little drier than what you find in the states) using a good old fashioned fork. it was my first time baking with browned butter, and i assure you, it won’t be the last… yum!!!

  185. Betsy

    Love these. They came out perfectly, and the only thing I had changed was using light brown sugar instead of dark (didn’t feel like taking the time to soften my hard-as-a-brick dark brown sugar). Along with my version of chocolate chip cookies, and Deb’s Brownie Roll-Out Cookies, they complete my top three favorite cookies of all time.

  186. Rallou

    I made them three days ago and they turned out great, crumbly but firm enough and delicious. I tried making them again today and they spread completely flat! The only difference was that the first time I barely mixed butter and sugar, and because it didn’t completely dissolve it ended up a bit crunchy, and I decided to beat them until fluffy on the second batch. I should’ve known better than changing what was already great.. I guess I just have to make them again and see what happens!!

  187. lindsay

    I made these and they turned out wonderfully… but I made sure I let the butter get extra firm and I made sure the dough was extra cold before baking.

    I am thinking about making them again, but adding some dark rum to liven them up a bit… I just think it would be delicious. How much do you recommend adding? I was thinking a couple of tablespoons. Should I add any more dry ingredients to compensate?

  188. Lisa

    Happy to report -at regular altitude- I had no spreading cookie problems! To come out with perfectly circular cookies (Any simple shape would have done- hearts, bars) I rolled the dough out on a baking sheet and used cookie cutters. Without lifting or moving any dough this went straight to the freezer and right before baking, arranged as needed. In my experience these do hold shape – With a little practice they can be pretty enough to gift, so I am super excited about that!

    Being short on ingredients I went with 50% margarine, 50% butter but as mentioned by others, THIS WILL NOT yield the wonderfully aromatic or deeply brown results you’d hope for. Next time I am going 100% butter. Salted butter sounds absolutely dreamy Deb.

    Shortbread cookies were the first cookies I learnt to bake, because they could be easily shipped to my grandmother in Japan. Repeat shipments followed and close to two decades later they remain her absolute favorite variety, though I did ship some others. (There was one time I sent handmade fortune cookies – Yes, with handwritten notes inside – but outside of America people don’t really know of them and she called to say there were papers in her mouth!)

    I was truly excited to stumble upon this buttery new take and hope to perfect it for her to eventually try. She is quite the gourmand and despite her age, loves new twists.

    Needless to say, first batch was still glorious deliciousness! Thanks again Deb!

  189. Christy

    Hi, I just wanted to leave a comment… I made these and, like others, my cookies turned out “lacey” and crumbly. The crumbs, however, were delicious and I couldn’t bear to throw them out. It occured to me that the crumbs might work as a crumb pie crust, with a light filling of vanilla pudding. I used the vanilla bean pudding recipe from this site, and it became a lovely dessert. A drizzle of raspberry sauce would be a tasty addition, too. So, don’t despair if your cookies don’t turn out as planned; there’s still hope for the little crumbs!

  190. “and there are these: brown butter, brown sugar shorties.” That is almost EXACTLY what I said to myself when I saw this post! You had me at brown butter, brown sugar. That is it!

  191. Jordan

    I love these cookies. I vaguely remember my first batch spreading a bit, but that hasn’t stopped me from making them again and again. The most recent time I messed with them a little bit to save time and to keep from having to get out my hand mixer. I browned the butter and then mixed the sugar in, then let that solidify some before adding the vanilla and flour. (No salt, but I used salted butter.) Then I rolled them into balls and baked them that way. They ended up a little soft, but that may be because I couldn’t wait for them to cool fully before eating one. (I also had to adjust the cooking time, but that was probably in part because the oven in my dorm’s community kitchen runs hot, and I turned it down too far to compensate.) And everyone who walked into the common room while I was browning the butter commented on how good it smelled!

  192. Stephanie

    I made these last night. I was craving something buttery and sweet and found this recipe. They turned out perfectly; I had absolutely no problems at all. I’m going to make them again closer to Christmas but try to put the dough into a cookie press. I had no problems with them spreading or being crumbly. I made sure that while the butter was cooling I stirred it a few times to reincorporate the liquids and solids & I cooked them slightly longer than the recipe indicated. I think I might go eat another one right now. Mmm

  193. Raisa

    These cookies are incredible! A friend of mine just told me about your website & I am now a little obsessed with it. This is the first recipe I have tried & I can’t wait to try more. Thank you for that!

  194. Stef

    Deb, I am making these today and after reading the comments was wondering about the butter that people were using.

    When I melted the butter today to brown it there weren’t many solids to brown. I am wondering if using a cheaper brand of butter (I got a store brand as it was on sale) would make the difference? It would be almost like drawn butter – which would make it behave more like using oil.

    Keeping my fingers crossed.

    1. deb

      Hi Stef — I almost always use cheap butter too, mostly because I want to make sure my baked goods will have the same outcome as anyone using everyday ingredients. The solids aren’t chunks or anything, just brown bits that sink.

  195. Stef

    Ok, I mixed the browned butter & brown sugar in the mixer until quite fluffy. Then added the rest and mixed until combined. The mixture was quite light in texture & color. I put it in some plastic, formed itinto a roll – and then into the fridge. Got quite firm and I sliced it and into the oven – 350. It all ended up very sandy & lacy, spreading thin. The only thing that might have had any variation is the butter. Hope this helps – It smelled heavenly and will make a great crumb crust!

  196. Stef

    Hmmm. Out of 1 1/2 sticks of butter there was only about 3/4 tsp. of browned bits, if that. I use an electric oven with a convection setting. Might the hot air that circulates melt the butter before it has a chance to get a crust to hold it in? These virtually melted into lacy puddles. They didn’t even hold together when I cooled them before removing from the pan.
    Guess I will try them again after the holidays. I love browned butter anything too.
    Cookie swap this Friday – and I’m making Cucidati. Figs, dates, apricots, raisins, currants, handful of cranberries (because I had them), orange zest, OJ &, ta da! Orange liqueur. Warmed on the stove, tossed into a food processor and it has been ripening in the fridge for a few days. Then into a log surrounded with cookie dough and baked. Frosted (drizzled) and then the heck out of this house so I don’t eat them all!
    Have a wonderful Holiday Season this year! Stef

  197. Dawn

    What an amazing cookie! My second sheet is just about to come out of the oven. Here are some tips:
    – Let the browned butter get SOLID (it went about two hours+ in the fridge)
    – After you add the flour, let the mixer go for a few minutes. It will look really sandy, then pebbly, then clumpy, then stop when the dough holds together. About 3-4 minutes. You’re going to think — this will never come together. Then it will, but you’ll need patience, and will still have to squeeze it and knead it a little bit (once it’s on the wax paper)
    – turn half of the dough mixture onto a piece of wax paper and knead it into a dough that comes together, then roll into a log.
    – Put the logs into the fridge overnight or chill them at least a few hours
    – Slice it when it is still very firm — I left it out on the counter for maybe 5-10 minutes

    These are divine!

  198. I love this ones! I really really love the taste so much! I made my second batch today (the first was some weeks ago and now I make some for christmas).

    Both times I had no problem. I made my log into a square ^^ and although they spread a little bit, they keep their shape (just the tiny bit a shortie always will spread).

    I used either salted butter or sea salt crystals which I dissolved with the butter. I also changed to scraped out vanilla pulp. And also… I had some demerara syrup which I added.

    I always mix per hand… they only thing I really take care of is to beat the butter while cooling every few minutes so it’ll be creamy…

    And now I have to keep myself from eating them all alone ^^

    Thanks so much for this recipe! :)

  199. Christine

    Well, these WILL be on my Christmas cookie platter. Something different! And as I have butter browning on the stove right now, I’m in business! I think it would also make a wonderfull gift as they too can place dough in fridge until ready to bake when the mood strikes! These sound so good, can’t wait to try!! Thank you for sharing!

    Happy Holidays and Peace to you and yours

  200. Morgan

    Um I’m not sure what I did right, but these are WONDERFUL! The list of my “adapatations” (read: mistakes) to this recipe are manifold (using the cheapest “butter” possible, i’m not sure if this butter even browned?!, using light brown sugar, and quite possibly not letting the butter chill enough?) but for some reason, it came out like a dream. I love anything resembling a shortbread and these certainly did (mine could’ve used a BIT more sugar), but all-in-all these are, no question, a cookie I will make again (and possibly NEVER EVER share with anyone…. SO GOOD!)

  201. Joan

    I’ve made these more times than I can count – they are my favorite cookie ever! I always add 1/2 cup if finely chopped pecans to the dough just before shaping it. Yumm!

  202. The dough is chilling in the fridge as I type… what’s left of it, anyway. Eggless cookie dough? Yeah, I go to town.
    I have to admit, I chuckled at the instruction “beat until pale and fluffy.” Brown butter and dark brown sugar? Perhaps it should read “pale(r)”… :)

  203. Update: these are GLORIOUS. Deb, you are too good to me. I’d love to try them next time with chopped or ground walnuts or pecans – sort of reminiscent of brown butter Mexican wedding cookies, yes? Ooh, or maybe toffee? And a sprinkling of flaky salt on top… Yum. The gears are turning.
    For what it’s worth, three cookies out of my batch of 34 spread (and those three not very much). I pulled the tray out after about 8 minutes, reined in the spreading edges with a butter knife, and popped them back in for another 3-4 minutes. They turned out perfectly. Perhaps I just have good luck in the kitchen? (Knock on wood.) Anyway, I ate two hot out of the oven and another two after they’d crisped up… I die. Definitely a winner here.

  204. These are killer good. I didn’t have any problems with crumbliness or spreading, but I suspect that’s because I refrigerated the dough for three days before baking off (was prepping for a dinner party). If I wasn’t, I’d follow other commenters advice to make sure to let the browned butter fully cool and nearly solidify before mixing in to the batter.

    But in general, most butter cookies do better with some advance refrigeration anyhow.

    My batch made 30 cookies, but I probably ate a cookie or two’s worth of the dough…

  205. City Girl

    I’m a horrible baker but I’ve aced these cookies 3 times. Today I was bold enough to let the butter get really dark. It looked burnt but tasted just right.. and the resulting cookies made me swoon.
    My friend had the spreading, lacy results that others have complained about, so she made a batch with an added egg yolk. She claims the cookies were perfect. I wasn’t there to do a Quality Control test, so I can’t vouch for the results, but thought I’d tell you about it anyway.

  206. Jessie

    They’re in the OVEN!!!…..one of my first recipe tests from your site after some strenuous conversions into good old Bristish grams….think i’m there! we’ll soon see! Thanks

  207. Trena

    *WARNING* You will think these are so rich that one will suffice. Oh, grasshopper, how wrong you are. Withing a half hour, at best, you will be craving another, and another, and . . .
    Absolutely addictive, in a good way.

  208. Jeanette

    Hey there! I am going to bravely attempt these this weekend. I am wondering if adding finely chopped chocolate bits would be okay?

  209. Maria

    When I began making them, I didn’t have time to complete them in the same day, so the browned butter ended up staying in the fridge for two days. I let the butter warm up slightly (half hour?), and then completed the recipe. They were still gorgeously delicious! Also, everyone told me that they were just like Galettes Bretons (French “biscuits”). :)

  210. Peggy

    Had the same spread out problem with these, but noticed that my brown butter had foam which yours did not. Made me wonder if butter quality varies, and some has different fat balance or even some water. Mine almost looked like it needed to be clarified first. will try again for sure. and Pixie is your undereye concealer, from target.

  211. My cookies were really light?..I browned my butter and used dark brown sugar. I have no idea why mine are so much lighter than yours. They almost look like regular shortbread with specks of brown sugar in it. I’m thinking I didn’t let my butter firm quite enough. Does that seem like it would change the color? They’re yummy, but just don’t look the same. Any advice?

  212. Also, I do have some advice (well, not really advice, more of a vague explanation) for some of the people saying their cookies are laced. I have this really amazing ginger molasses cookie recipe and I bake cookies at home all the time and they’re wonderful. Fluffy and chewy and great. Well, i went home for Christmas last year and cooked them in my mom’s oven. They basically melted while cooking and turned out FLAT and horrible. I thought, maybe it’s her old cookie sheet, so I went to the store and bought one JUST like mine that I use at home. Same problem. I was so disappointed. The only difference is that I have an electric oven and hers is gas. I think sometimes, some ovens just aren’t good for baking certain cookies. …that’s my only conclusion.

  213. Carolyn

    Just entered these (along with World Peace Cookies, which always disappear in a heartbeat) in an office Christmas Cookie contest. Though I’ve become a brown-butter addict, I wasn’t entertaining super-high hopes – mostly because there were a lot of points on the line for appearance, and these certainly aren’t flashy – but they came in second place… um, after the World Peace Cookies. :) Totally addictive.

  214. Jessica

    Hmmm. Have always had consistent results with SK baking recipes. Read the inconsistent results, went ahead anyway. Added 1/2 tsp fresh ground cardamon, dough tasted awesome. Beautiful browned butter – I’m a restaurant line cook so I wasn’t worried about that. Chilled my brown butter, and even to be extra sure chilled the completed dough before forming a log. Used Canadian demerara brown sugar. Sliced from frozen after brief tempering, rechilled to sliced cookies so they baked from practically frozen.

    Completed dough seemed super soft, so I even added another 1/4c flour.

    Despite all these precautions, absolutely accurate measurements, not rushing creaming step in my kitchenaid…totally lacy spread out cookies. Maybe they could become a crumble for a coffee cake topping for something, but that’s about it. I’ve been baking assorted cookies all day so the oven isn’t the issue. bummer! They sound so fantastic!

  215. I’ve been an SK devotee for four years after a friend gave me a batch of “best cocoa brownies”. I consider myself a decent cook, but a horrible cookie maker. I made this recipe last night after staring at the pictures all day. Not only was my losing streak with cookies broken, but out of the oven came the most delicious cookies I’ve ever tasted. I was inspired to make my first post because these are so incredible. I can’t wait to try dark brown sugar next time. Thanks SK.

  216. Leslie

    These were AMAZING. I followed John’s instructions and cooled my butter two hours. I was afraid I’d messed up and mixed too much..my dough never came together, but stayed crumbs. I eventually have up and just squished it together into an unattractive log, which worked..and they sliced great, and baked up beautifully! I even managed to not burn my butter :), something I’ve done before and am always afraid of doing again.

  217. Shannon

    Just made these – while I am not 100% sure I got things right, they are very, very good. I chilled the brown butter for 2 hours, and the log for 2 hours. I used my paddle attachment. Before rolling my log into the wax paper, I was worried that the dough was dry. The coarse sugar barely stuck to my log. The cookies did not spread in the oven, but they are a wee bit on the sandy side. Still perfect though to accompany a cup of tea or served as dessert with fresh strawberries :)

  218. Anita

    I just made these cookies and am IN LOVE!!! I didn’t have any parchment paper, so I divided the dough in half, added walnuts to one half for me and the the other plain for my hubby then rolled the dough in the leftover butter wrappers :) They were not pretty, but they were so tasty and hubby was very pleased. THANK YOU! Already a favorite in this house.

  219. Heather

    I was nervous about making these but they turned out great! I chilled the butter in the freezer for about an hour so it was very cold. My dough came together really nicely and was easy to roll into a log. I chilled it for 45 minutes in the fridge, it sliced very easily but I then chilled the disks on the baking tray in the freezer for a further 15 minutes before baking them. No spreading and the flavor is delicious!

  220. Sarah

    I actually think these would be perfect to take to holiday cookie party… people would pass over them and I’d get to take the majority of them home as leftovers! These. are. heavenly. I have a hard time saying no to anything with brown sugar and butter, and this did not disappoint. I read through a lot of the comments before getting started (especially John’s, 166), and I’m glad I did. The butter needed to chill a lot longer than an hour in our fridge, so I threw it in the freezer for the last 15 minutes and that did the trick.

  221. Aidan

    I make these every year for Christmas and cannot help myself but to throw a split vanilla bean into the butter while it’s browning. So decadent!

  222. Lora

    Could the problems with the recipe be with the quality or brand of butter used?

    My understanding is that butter is an emulsification of fat and moisture and that the amount of water or liquid in butter can vary quite a bit sometimes.

    When you brown or clarify X volume of butter and cook off the liquid the volume has now changed.

    So someone using a butter that was lower in moisture will yield a higher volume of brown butter after cooking off the moisture (more fat – spreading cookie) then a person using a butter that was higher in moisture (less fat – dry crumbly dough).

    Maybe the recipe would be more consistent for people if amount of butter used was measured after the browning stage instead of before?

    Just a thought.

    1. deb

      Lora — It’s a good theory but I’ve always made these with “junky” store-brand butter that would be higher in water and almost never had a problem with them. I suspect they’d benefit from an egg to hold them together better, but it would change the lovely sandy texture that’s achieved when they work. Thanks for your input.

  223. marilyn

    Hi Deb,
    I love your site and am always recommended it to friends. I am going to try this recipe today, with the hints from John (166) (Thank you also John). But I have a general question about cookie recipes. I just got my first Kitchen Aid Mixer (Artisan) and I found that the first recipe I tried did not have enough “dough” to make it work it the Kitchen Aid ( I then used my wonderful Cuisinart hand mixer). Do all your recipes work with the Kitchen Aid? And which attachment do I use? Thanks.

    1. deb

      marilyn — I usually use the paddle attachment for cookies. I cannot say with authority that all 80-something cookie recipes on this site work in a KA, but I think most will. I often just use a hand mixer for cookies, however, as it’s less of a fuss and the batters/doughs are usually pretty simple. I save the KA for cakes and bigger projects.

  224. marilyn

    OK..tried the cookies and they are great, with 2 questions. My cookies didn’t spread, not one bit. So the stayed 1.5 X .25 inch disks….was that right? Maybe too cold?
    And (this is the math teacher writing) if you divide a 12 inch log into 1/4 slices rounds, you get 48 rounds. But the yield said 32. Does that take into count the 14 that get eaten before anyone else sees them?
    Love your recipes..thanks Deb.

  225. marilyn

    So due to one family member being left out of these cookies the first time, I did them again. And they are wonderful, no problems. Here are 2 suggestions:
    1. Roll the cookies in the sugar before you put them back in refrigerator for the last time. Sugar sticks much better when the dough is still soft.
    2. I separated the dough in 3 batches and I hand rolled them into 3 logs (like play dough).

  226. Jennie

    The first time I made these they were rather crumbly, so the second time I reduced the flour slightly, to 1 1/4 cups, and they’ve come out perfect ever since. My daughters love these and are always asking me to make them. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  227. Savanah

    I’ve made so many of your recipes, Deb, and they’re all lovely! This one included, despite me completely getting the butter amount wrong in the beginning and having to correct my error after the mix was mixed. Fortunately, they baked perfectly and taste delicious!

  228. Charlie

    Almost 7000 feet here, and we tried these before reading the comments. Crumbly hardly begins to cover it. Next time we’ll try less flour/fresh flour/maybe a hit of molasses for extra glue.

    Delicious crumbs, though. I think we’re going to reuse them as crust for peach cobbler crumble jumble.

  229. Charlie

    I wonder if part of the variation in results can be explained by all of the butter being browned. My attempt was so very dry, but I think I over-browned the butter, because … mmm, more brown is better, right?

    Kenji comments that: “brown butter adds no moisture to dough”.
    http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/the-food-lab-the-best-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

    I might try these shorties again, but with one stick of browned butter and one stick of not-browned butter.

  230. Denise

    I’m in the process of making these cookies with my 3YO nephew. I love that they have no eggs so he can help through the whole process without me worrying that he may get salmonella …I love this blog and browning for the first time makes me feel accomplished

  231. Katherine

    Just made these (well, sliced the logs–made them last week) to take to a meeting with my PhD committee.

    I don’t have a mixer and was too lazy to re-chill the brown butter, so I added the sugar to it while it was melted and then stuck it in the freezer. Left it too long, the whole thing froze, had to thaw it slightly before it could be creamed.

    But. Some small chunks of brown sugar/brown butter remained (because I am lazy) and have turned out to be amazing and delicious toffee-like chunks hidden in the cookies.

  232. Melissa

    hello!!
    the cookies were soooo soooo delicious they smell soooo good.
    I made them 3 times the first one were completely flat so I could not keep them they burnt…It was my mistake for not putting all the quantity of flour and not refrigerating them enough befre baking…

    the second were soooooooooooo good i used to roll them brown sugar and were sooo delicious

    the third time were delicious but I rolled the cookies in demerara sugar and it was good but i think when I rolled them in brwon sugar they were 100000 times better

    thanks!!! I will keep this recipe for ever. !!!

  233. Elisa

    I made these over Christmas because 1. I love anything with browned butter, and 2. because my dad unearthed this huge 5 gallon tub of the deepest, richest, most molassesy demerara sugar you could imagine from the ’70s when he used to make his own beer. And it was HEAVEN. The demerara sugar now lives with me, and I use it in everything from this recipe to making caramel popcorn to making marinades. YUM. These cookies are now on my top 5 list (along with the crispy salted white chocolate oatmeal cookies on your site).

    PS, I followed your recipe to a T, and they turned out perfectly. But I do live at sea level, so I don’t encounter the high altitude problems. Good to know about those problems though, as the lakehouse I vacation at is at 5000 ft above sea level!

  234. Cecilia

    I’ve made these a few times now, and they were perfect. This morning I baked the first half of the batch on a silpat rather than on parchement and I got the dreaded spread. I went back to parchment paper for the second batch and they were perfect. I wonder if it has something to do with what they’re baked on. Something like a light or double walled (or silpat covered) baking sheet might not be conducting heat as efficiently, sort of like the shortbread equivalent to soggy french fries because the oil was too cold.

  235. Tim

    I made these today with normal brown sugar and found the taste a little underwhelming. I’ll have to get some really nice dark brown sugar to use next time and add some spice as well (I’m thinking allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and a hint of pepper)

  236. Holly Keyes

    I made these and had them in the oven before I noticed the note at the very bottom saying that some people had trouble with this recipe. My cookies are so fragile that I have made them into ice cream topping – not a bad way to go for cookies that can’t be eaten out of hand. They taste awesome. On another note – I had this idea to coat the outside not with sugar but PopRocks similar to trader Joes Shooting Stars cookies – the only problem is that PopRocks melt in the oven and made greenish melty blobs around my cookies. Note to self – add the PopRocks after cookies come out of the oven next time.

  237. Jenni

    These are delightful; I made a double batch and kept half in the freezer. I wound up using it as a dough for little tartlets which I then filled with mascarpone and fresh sliced strawberries drizzled with a mixture of honey and amaretto. My friends still talk about them!

  238. Clara

    I just finished making a batch of these, however I only got 24 cookies from the dough and by the time my log was 1 1/2 inches in diameter it was only a bit over 10″ long. Maybe I didn’t cream the butter and sugar long enough? I used my Kitchen Aide stand mixer and usually the only problem I have with that is over-
    processing batters because I am more familiar with doing things by hand or with a hand heald electric mixer.