Pretzel shortbread cookies are (almost) too good to share
Everyone at the farmers market was talking about the pretzel shortbread cookies from Lost Bread Co. So I joined the snaking line to see what the fuss was about.
They didn’t look like much, just a stack of coppery rectangles wrapped in cellophane. But almost everyone ahead of me ordered them, and I nervously watched the pile get smaller the closer I got.
I snagged one of the final bags, then ripped it open to try a bite.
At first, the pretzel side came through: The shortbread was hard, crunchy and studded with chunks of white salt. The sweetness hit as the crumbs dissolved on my tongue, turning buttery, supple and a little nutty. It was a cookie that leaned into the savory side, salty and sweet and impossible to stop eating.
I immediately knew the only way I could go on was to get my hands on the recipe. Alex Bois, a founder of Lost Bread, was happy to oblige. The shortbread, he said, were created as a way to use up the bakery’s leftover pretzels. But with the recipe came a warning: It called for dipping the cookies in lye, which is what gives them their characteristic pretzel brown gloss. Make sure to wear gloves and eye protection, he said, as lye can burn.
The lye part was offputting, to say the least.
The internet suggested substituting a baking soda solution, which worked well. For another batch, I tried brushing the shortbread with egg white. The egg white is easier and the baking soda slightly more flavorful, so I offer both options here.
Pretzel shortbread leans savory, with just enough sweetness to make it impossible to stop eating.