you never let me down. i made your shortbread cookie recipe with august this weekend, and they were divine. perfectly flaky, and just as you say "the quintessence of shortbread, and my all-time favorite cookie". we usually make the shortbread hearts for valentines day, but i couldn't wait that long. maybe someday we will make them together in your kitchen... a girl can dream.
adapted from the barefoot contessa, ina garten
3/4 lb unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
mix the butter and granulated sugar together in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. add the vanilla. in another bowl, sift together the flour and salt; add it to the butter and sugar. mix until dough just comes together. dump onto a floured board and shape into a flat disk. wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
preheat oven to 350 degrees
roll the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut with a 3 inch round/or heart shaped fluted cutter. place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. i like to sprinkle them with sugar just as they come out of the oven. let cool to room temperature.