Make Ahead

Hungarian Shortbread

April 12, 2010
8 Ratings
  • Prep time 1000 hours
  • Cook time 1000 hours
  • Makes 20 squares
Author Notes

Adapted from Cooking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Saveur also has a scaled-down version of this recipe on their site. It’s so easy to prepare, requires few ingredients, and, after a short stint in the freezer, can be assembled and baked in under an hour. I’ve changed the recipe slightly, to fit my baking pan of choice, and I decreased the butter a bit, as I felt the original was way too greasy. Any good-quality store-bought jam will work, so feel free to substitute. I've used peach, apricot, plum, strawberry, whatever is in the cupboard, really.

For a thicker shortbread, see step 12. Also, recipe can be halved, in which case use a smaller pan and reduce cooking time slightly. —mrslarkin

What You'll Need
  • for the jam (makes about 3 cups, or use your favorite jam)
  • 3 pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 strips of lemon zest or orange zest
  • For the Hungarian Shortbread
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups jam, homemade or good-quality store-bought, any flavor you like
  • confectioner's sugar, for dusting the top
  1. for the jam (makes about 3 cups, or use your favorite jam)
  2. Place rhubarb, sugar, water, and zest in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the rhubarb gets very soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
  1. For the Hungarian Shortbread
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, or in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for a few minutes, until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla, and beat well. Turn off the mixer. Scrape down bowl. Add the flour mixture, and slowly pulse the mixer back and forth, on and off, so as not to send the flour flying out of the bowl. Do this for 30 seconds or so. Increase mixer speed to low and mix just until the flour is incorporated. It is a very stiff dough.
  5. Turn the dough out onto your counter, and cut into quarters. Use a food scale if you’ve got one to get even pieces. Shape each quarter into a flat-ish log about 8 or so inches long. (You'll be putting it down the feed tube of the food processor later.) Wrap each piece in plastic and freeze for about 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a half-sheet pan (12” x 17”) with parchment paper, allowing a bit of paper to hang over sides of pan.
  7. Remove dough from freezer. Using a food processor with the grater blade, place a log of dough through the feed tube (you’ll have to use some muscle and the safety gadget pusher thingy, please). It’s really loud, so warn everyone, or you’ll scare the bejesus out of them. After grating two logs, evenly scatter the grated dough over the prepared pan. Pat the dough ever so lightly into the corners.
  8. Using an offset spatula, gently spread about 3 cups of the jam over the dough.
  9. Grate the remaining logs of dough, and scatter it over the jam, pressing lightly to distribute it evenly.
  10. Bake the shortbread for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. When done, remove shortbread from oven, and immediately dust the top heavily with confectioner’s sugar. I use a small mesh strainer for this job and gently tap it against my palm. Set pan on a rack to cool.
  12. Cut into roughly 3” x 3 ½“ squares, or however large or small you desire.
  13. Cook's note: for a thicker shortbread, bake in a parchment-lined 9" x 13" baking pan for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. I use about 2 cups jam in the smaller pan.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • patricia
  • Niknud
  • Denise
  • MrsWheelbarrow
  • Oui, Chef
    Oui, Chef

25 Reviews

patricia June 24, 2018
I made the dough for Christmas but forgot to make them. Fast forward 6 months....just made them with store bought black cherry jam and topped with slivered almonds. They were wonderful! So easy to make (food processor does the heavy lifting) and so delicious! Will definitely make again.
Niknud July 15, 2013
Yum - looks like a three napkin kind of dessert to me which is (as well all know) the best kind of dessert!
KFS April 11, 2013
I was looking for a recipe using rhubarb, I need a taste of spring and thought these looked deliciious. Just one question, could I make these the day before serving them...if so do I keep them overnight in the fridge, or just covered at room temperature?
mrslarkin April 11, 2013
Hi KFS. I've made these the day before serving. They keep fine at room temp, covered. Hope you like them!
Denise May 6, 2010
I'd really like a slice of this right now...
mrslarkin May 13, 2010
hee too!
MrsWheelbarrow April 29, 2010
Do you think I could make 1/2 a recipe in a 9 x 13 pan? Not that I couldn't EAT an entire half sheet, but I'm the only rhubarb fan in this house, and I already ate most of a pie.
mrslarkin April 29, 2010
Yes, I think you could. I'd like to try a 1/2 recipe in a 10 1/2" round tart pan, too. Watch amount of jam - you'll prob need less. Don't worry about rhubarb overdose - loaded with Vitamin C and fiber, isn't it? So you won't catch a cold, AND you'll be regular. ;)
Oui, C. April 28, 2010
These sound so gooey and rich and perfect....gotta go find my bib.
mrslarkin April 28, 2010
Thanks, Chef! Yep, this one has the potential to be messy!
mrslarkin April 28, 2010
Cook's note: the finished photo is from a few years ago on a hot summer day, with 4 sticks of butter, and a smaller pan. I'll take an updated photo soon.
coffeefoodwrite April 27, 2010
Well, MrsL -- when I saw your comment on 4 sticks of butter I knew I had to make this dish. Made it tonight and it was absolutely wonderful...used the 4 sticks (couldn't resist!) and filled it with a combination of jams I had in the fridge - apricot (on the sour side), raspberry, and a reduced blueberry compote with lemon. (I reduced the sugar a bit -- just my own personal taste...) We are having people over tomorrow for the Laker game and I am SURE there will be only crumbs left when they are gone! thanks for a wonderful recipe!
mrslarkin April 27, 2010
That is great, cfwg!! So glad you're enjoying the Hungarians! Let me know what the verdict is after the game.
coffeefoodwrite April 27, 2010
Oh, we had some last night and it was wonderful!
coffeefoodwrite April 28, 2010
Everyone one loved it last night...=)
mrslarkin April 28, 2010
Yay! I'm glad!!!
TheWimpyVegetarian April 26, 2010
This looks wonderful! I can't wait to make them. Have you tried herbs and/or lemon zest in the shortbread a la Merrill's recipe or would that be overkill on the flavors??
mrslarkin April 27, 2010
Thanks CS! I haven't tried it with herbs/zest YET! But have always wanted to try. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!
MyCommunalTable April 26, 2010
Have you ever made this with a strawberry and rhubarb combo? I bet it would work great. These seem like they would be perfect for almost any occasion. I can not wait to try it. Does it freeze well?
mrslarkin April 26, 2010
Yes! In fact, the pictures show straw/rhub, as I was using leftover jams for that batch, so I mixed the two. I've done it with apricot/peach too. I've never frozen it - not sure about that (it's eaten up way too quickly.)
coffeefoodwrite April 26, 2010
My oh my oh my -- these look great!
mrslarkin April 26, 2010
thanks, cfwg!
Lizthechef April 12, 2010
Please, mrslarkin, not the "m" word...
Lizthechef April 12, 2010
This has already been printed out. Not only am I half Hungarian, but I live with someone who is crazy for rhubarb. These look delicious - now, back to your sugar cookies...Thumbs up on both recipes and thanks for heeding the prompts to write this up!
mrslarkin April 12, 2010
Thanks, Liz. This is so easy. Let me know if you make it! And you could use the leftover egg whites to practice your macaroons! ;-)