Friday, February 3, 2012

shortbread, the little black dress of cookies

Okay, so maybe that metaphor is a little far-fetched, but shortbread is incredibly versatile, elegant, and, let's be honest, anything with that much butter in it has to be sexy.

mmm...you know you want some of this.

I decided to make shortbread for a dinner party I went to last night, and I happened to have a few ounces of good dark chocolate and candied orange peel in my cupboard, so that's the combination I went with. This recipe would be perfectly lovely on its own as well, or with an endless number of other additions. A few possible combinations, before I get to the main recipe:

sweet:
-1/2 c chopped white chocolate + 1/2 c of your favorite dried berries
-1 tsp cinnamon (mixed into flour) + 1 c toasted chopped pecans
-1/3 c dried coconut + 1/3 c chopped dark chocolate + 1/3 c slivered almonds
savory:
-3/4 c shredded parmesan + 1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
-3/4 c shredded sharp cheddar + 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
-1/3 c cooked diced bacon + 1/3 c crumbled bleu cheese

shortbread master recipe
adapted from sarabeth's bakery: from my hands to yours
makes about 2 dozen

ingredients:
16 tbsp (2 sticks) salted butter (my preference), at room temp and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 c sugar (for sweet shortbread only)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (sweet only)
grated zest of 1/2 lemon (sweet only; use your judgment depending on flavor additions)
2 c all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
flavor additions of your choice

instructions:
Preheat oven to 350, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Beat butter on using a mixer set to medium-high speed until it is smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest if using, mixing until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 3 minutes. Fold in extra ingredients, if using.

If you're working in a hot kitchen, refrigerate the dough until it's slightly cooler than room temperature. Place dough on a lightly floured counter, lightly flour the top of the dough, and roll it out into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Using a medium cookie cutter, cut out the shortbread, and place each them about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut out more until you've used all the dough. Refrigerate the cookies until firm, 20-30 minutes.

Bake until the edges are very lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cook on the pans. Shortbread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days.

Okay, so they don't LOOK that sexy, but it's all about the attitude, right?

1 comment:

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