Ina Fridays –Desserts and "Other" Recipes — Eli Zabar’s Shortbread Cookies Three Ways

Tiny, fluted, showered in sugar:  “Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars”
Raspberry Sandwich Cookies
Dipped in Vahlrona chocolate and topped with fleur de sel

These cookies are always on all my cookie trays in one version or another.  Each shortbread cookie is made from the same recipe, but is simply finished differently.  The recipe is Eli Zabar’s  (NYC) and I took it straight from Ina Garten, who I guess took it straight from Eli, who, it appears got it from his mother!  My cookies, however, are quite different than Ina’s.  Your cookies will be something else as well.  And while these are not terribly innovative or cutting edge, they are terribly delicious.  Addictive, in fact.  Just add coffee.  Just add tea.  Just add sherry.  Just add…you.

If you watch Ina regularly, you’ll know she talks about Eli Zabar quite often and even has him on the show occasionally.  Eli Zabar’s is a store and catering business in the Big Apple; he’s a baker; he’s a gardener; well just….Check him out here.  

Watch Ina cook an Eli Zabar salmon recipe here. 

    These are versatile… 

Summertime, the cookies are wonderful crumbled up and served  over ice cream with fresh strawberries and a splash of Framboise or Grand Marnier. 

Wintertime, iced and decorated, they’re the stars of the holiday cookie tin or your best potluck contribution.

Baby shower, wedding reception, Halloween party, cookies for the college kids, big or small, shortbread is just simple, sweet (but not too), and the absolute perfect bite of cookie……..if I had to choose one, just one cookie out of the whole universe.  

I have come close to burning these cookies so that they are brown, brown.  But they’re still tasty; some people like them best this way.  My husband among them.  Could you ask more of cookie than that it taste good darned near burnt?  While doing a bit of research for this post, I discovered this tidbit on Eli Zabar’s website where you can order these cookies:

Eli always reaches straight for the darkest cookies – the browner the cookie, the more deeply caramelized the sugar and the better the taste.

I often make this recipe and cut out the cookie both thin and small–1/4-inch x 1 1/2-inches, say.  The tiny gems not only melt in your mouth, you get a cookie fix for a lot less calories than if you made big peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies.  Maybe simple pleasures are best.

This lovely recipe works and works–if  it gets a bit warm, it’s ok.  Too cold–just warm it up a little.  At Christmas when there’s little time, this dough chills in a mere thirty minutes instead of the hours required for sugar cookies.  And, while it’s the Scot in me, I just think shortbread tastes so much better than sugar cookies.  It also keeps ad infinitum; there are no eggs in the recipeand eggs in cookies make them go stale much more quickly. Check it out with your own recipes, you’ll see. But make Ina’s (Eli’s, Alyce’s, your) shortbread:

shortbread cookies from eli’s mother, eli, ina, alyce, and you
  • 3/4 pound soft unsalted butter (3 sticks)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (no salt if you used salted butter)

For Alyce’s sparkly stars:  white sugar for sprinkling
For Alyce’s sandwich cookies:  3/4 c seedless raspberry jam and 1T Cointreau
For Alyce’s chocolate dips:  3-6 oz Valrhona Chocolate melted*; 1T coarse sea salt–or fleur de sel


Mix together the butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until just combined.  Add vanilla.  Sift the flour and salt and add it to the butter an d sugar.  Mix until the dough starts to come together.  Dump on a floured board and shape into a flat disc. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Roll dough out 1/4″   thick on a floured surface and cut with 1 1/2- 2″   fluted cookie/biscuit cutter.  Bake on an ungreased sheet for about 10 minutes–until edges show the faintest signs of gold. Remove to cooling rack.  Let cool to room temperature.

alyce’s variations:

For Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars: Easiest and Fastest.  Dunks the fastest and sweetens hot tea.

Sprinkle UNBAKED cookies generously with white, granulated sugar before baking.

For Raspberry Shortbread Sandwiches: Time Consuming but has the WOW! factor + taste

Mix jam with Cointreau and heat briefly; stir well.  Turn cookies flat side up and, holding one, place about 1/2 teaspoon jam mixture on it.  Place another cookie, flat side down into the jam mixture and press together lightly.  Place  cookies on racks as you finish them.  When all are done, dust with confectioner’s sugar shaken from the shaker or through a small strainer/sieve.

For Valrhona Chocolate Shortbreads: Nothing further need be said…

Chop or grate chocolate (I like Valrhona, but any good-quality dark chocolate will do.) into a small sauce pan.  Place sauce pan over  another with an inch or so of simmering water.  Let chocolate melt slowly.  When melted, take each cookie and dip halfway.  Place each dipped cookie onto a wax paper lined tray to dry.  Place a piece or two of sea salt, if desired, on the chocolate side before the chocolate dries.

*Depending on how much of the dough you commit to the chocolate variation.

Store these cookies in tight containers after they are very dry.  Place wax paper between layers.

{printable recipe}



The first Friday of the month, food bloggers from many parts of the world join together in posting a favorite Ina recipe.  This month we have main courses; next month is Desserts and Other or Miscellaneous Recipes.  Note:  After this round, drinks will go with appetizers instead of with Desserts and Other.

Stop in and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up today or any day:

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It is possible some of our writers may be in and out of the Ina group periodically.  If you click on their blog and there’s no Ina recipe that day, check their index for previous entries or return another time.  Thanks and keep on coming back!
Sing a new song,
two of these photos were originally posted December, 2010


16 thoughts on “Ina Fridays –Desserts and "Other" Recipes — Eli Zabar’s Shortbread Cookies Three Ways

  1. Wonderful post Alyce. Love all your variations. I too love this recipe, but the only way I've made it is by turning them into the coconut thumbprints. One of my husband's all-time favorite cookies too.

  2. Pingback: Lemon Salmon on Sautéed Vegetables and Barley + Leftover Salmon Frittata | More Time at the Table


  4. I’ve been on the hunt for a cookie dough recipe (not a sugar cookie recipe) that I can add in other flavor ingredients such as freeze dried fruit powder (apple cinnamon to be exact) and a nut. One that will allow me to do so without compromising the dough. Would this one work? If yes, how much of each could I add in? If yes, will I need to add more of X ingredient in order to make it work? Please help as I would love to get this dough made before Christmas. Thanks!

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