16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups all purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is very creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat well, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, then add them to the butter mixture, beating only until well combined.

With floured fingers, gently pat the dough into two ungreased 8 inch round cake pan. Using the floured tines of a fork, score the shortbreads into eighths. Press the tines around the edges of each shortbread to resemble fluting and prick the shortbread with a decorative design, if desired.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edge of the shortbread is just beginning to brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes on a rack. While the shortbread is still warm, gently cut through the marked off wedges. Using a pointed metal spatula or pie server, carefully lever out the shortbread wedges and allow them to cool completely on a rack. Makes 16 wedge shaped cookies.

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