Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Classic Scottish Shortbread

These were a hit at the officeI've tried several shortbread recipes over the years, but these seem to come out the most "classic."  Sure, you can vary them by adding, say, almond extract, or cinnamon to the batter, but the recipe that follows produces what I remember from my childhood.  Caution:  loads of butter ahead.  That slogan would make a good roadside sign, wouldn't it?

Time:  one hour, overall; 20-25 minutes baking at 350F; plus 5 to make the dough, and 30 to let it chill in the fridge

Quantity:  Approx. 3 dozen 1" x 2" cookies

  • 3.5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 lb. of butter (3 sticks), room temperature, or nuked for 30 seconds to soften it
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar, plus about a teaspoon, reserved for sprinkling on top
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  • pinch of salt (or 1/4 tsp. if you use unsalted butter)
  1. Cream the sugar and butter together
  2. Mix in the vanilla and salt
  3. sift the flour, and mix it in, half a cup or so, at a time
  4. When it forms a stiff dough that sticks together pretty well, form it into a disk or rectangle, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it for half an hour (same thing as you'd do with pie crust dough)
  5. Roll it out until it's about 3/8" thick, on a floured board
  6. Cut it into whatever size/shape you want*
  7. Transfer the cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet, jelly roll pan, or whatever baking sheet you have, spacing them about 1/4" apart (they don't expand a whole lot, but they do expand)
  8. Sprinkle a little extra granulated sugar over the top of the cookies
  9. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until the edges looks set, and just barely start to develop some color
  10. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet, then remove them
* Alternately, transfer the entire rolled-out block of dough onto your baking sheet, then cut the cookies as they cool, about 2-3 minutes after they come out of the oven. I've done this with a pizza cutter, for basic rectangular cookies, and it works.  Call it cheating, if you want, but it's expedient.

Notes:  These can be cut into rounds, wedges, or whatever.  I don't believe in wasting cookie dough that has that much butter in it, so go ahead and bake those oddball edge pieces you may get.  You can prick the dough with a fork before you bake it, but if it's rolled out to a consistent thickness, it's not really necessary.  They will come out of the oven soft, but will harden as they cool.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Recipe: Reverse Chip Cookies

I'm sure there are various other names for these, but they're basically chocolate chip cookies, with chocolate dough, and white chocolate chips. They stay chewy after they cool, and don't have that cake-like texture that some chocolate cookies have.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies
Time: 15-20 minutes to make the dough, plus 10 minutes at 350F baking time per batch

  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 lb. of butter (one stick, or half a cup), softened
  • 1/4 lb. of vegetable shortening (or just use all butter)
  • 3/4 c. granulated white sugar
  • 2/3 c. of brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. of white chocolate chips (a 12 oz. bag)
  1. let the oven preheat to 350F while you make the dough
  2. sift together the dry ingredients in one bowl
  3. cream the sugars and fats together in another bowl
  4. beat in the vanilla to the wet ingredients
  5. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each
  6. mix in the dry ingredients, a little at a time, incorporating well between additions, until thoroughly mixed
  7. stir in the white chocolate chips, taking care to get them as evenly distributed throughout the dough as possible
  8. form balls of dough, about an inch in diameter, and arrange them on an ungreased cookie sheet (or use a small ice cream scoop or soup spoon, and drop them in place)
  9. bake for 10 minutes at 350F
  10. let cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack
Notes: you can use all butter, all margarine, or half butter and half shortening, like
I do. It doesn't really matter -- whatever you've got on hand, but don't use oil. There's no reason you couldn't use peanut butter chips, as suggested to me by someone, instead of the white chocolate. PB chips sounds really good, although I've never tried it. If you don't have powdered baking cocoa, you probably could substitute melted unsweetened chocolate blocks, but I suspect you'd probably have to add some extra flour (1/8 c.?) to make up for the additional oils it contains.