Cinnamon Shortbread with Brown Sugar Icing

Okay, guys, I'm going to admit a deep dark secret to you, but it's okay because we're friends, right? (RIGHT?!) Growing up, my favorite flavor of Girl Scout cookie was.....shortbread. For real. I know, I know who am I?

But, yes, the little clover-shaped, buttery, crumbly cookies were most-loved cookie for a good long while there, especially eaten straight from the freezer. While my sister was happily munching away on little bites of minty, chocolaty bliss (aka Thin Mints, which should also be served frozen, obviously), I was content with my little blue box of plain shortbread.

Three-ish weeks or so ago, I packed up a bunch of my best vaguely summery, vaguely fall-like outfits and made a bee-line to San Jose to spend the weekend with a handful of my favorite gals. Three years ago when we made a similar trip, I brought a deep, dark, chocolaty shortbread icebox slice and bakes studded with chocolate chips and sprinkled with sea salt (arguably the shortbread standard-bearer of my adult life) that we had included in the cookbook that I was assisting with. This time, in yet another edition of my 'quest for fall flavors that aren't pumpkin', I made these little unassuming things. Though the icing does gussy them up a bit, they're modest, humble shortbread at heart (...and...literally...).

These are good, guys....

Cinnamon Shortbread with Brown Sugar Icing

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)

1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher)

3 teaspoons cinnamon


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (not imitation, please)

1 Tablespoon milk

Pinch of salt (Kosher again)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 pan. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add salt and cinnamon. Slowly add flour. Mix until just combined (can be done by hand to make extra sure you don't overmix. Overmixed shortbread is tough, not tender.). Spread into prepared pan (it'll be thin, this is OK). Take a fork and poke tiny holes all over. Bake until cooked through and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before icing!

Combine butter, brown sugar, vanilla, milk and salt in bowl. Beat for about 10 minutes, or until light, fluffy and smooth. Spread evenly onto cooled shortbread and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cut cookies into squares or rectangles, just go ahead and eat them out of the pan - I won't tell.