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Cookie time

My consultant-coworker just turned around and said to me, "I have nothing for you to do this week."

After blinking for a second, I said, "So...this would be the week to take my car to the shop and have my hair done?"

The project I've been assigned to since November has a very distinct tidal character. We're apparently at an ebb, and I'm told that next week a big high tide will come pouring in. Meanwhile, it's LJ catch-up time. So...a cookie recipe.

Shortbread is the simplest cookie in the world. Just butter, flour, sugar, and maybe a pinch of salt. I like mine not too sweet, traditionally wedge-shaped, and rather "brunette" than "blonde." My big contribution to Shortbreaddom is this technique for turning out perfect matching wedges. Because I'm just that obsessive. I like them to line up neatly in little rows, in little tin boxes...


So anyway, this recipe will make 3 dozen wedges of buttery goodness that will knock the socks off your mom, your genteel tea-drinking friends, and your office coworkers. Add the chocolate, and you can then expect to knock socks off pretty much everyone else, too.

You will need this equipment:

3 9" tart pans with removable bottoms

3 cookie cutters about 2" in diameter--fluted, round, star-shaped, something symmetrical.

A pie marker with 6 or 12 divisions

A stand mixer is ideal, but you can use a pastry cutter. You'll need a rolling pin, too.

And these ingredients:

1 pound of unsalted butter, softened but still cool
3-1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup rice flour*
1 cup of sugar for not-too-sweet shortbread, up to 1-1/2 cups if you prefer it sweeter.
1 teaspoon salt

*rice flour is not absolutely essential, but it gives a lovely, slightly "sandy" quality to the finished product. If you skip rice flour, use 4 full cups of regular flour.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Mix the flour(s) and sugar together in a big mixing bowl. Cut the butter into quarter-inch slices and toss them in the dry ingredients to coat, then use the pastry cutter or your mixer to cut the butter into the flour/sugar thoroughly.

If you're using a mixer, just let it run on low speed till dough forms, a minute or two. By hand, cut till you have a fine, mealy consistency, then rub the crumbs between your fingers till dough forms. Shortbread dough actually benefits from handling, so err on the side of overworking the dough.

Divide the dough into three equal parts, and form each into a ball. Flatten and roll each ball out on a floured board to a circle the size of the tart pan bottom. Lay the circle in the tart pan, and press it with your fingers to fill the pan as evenly as possible.

Use the pie marker to score each pan of dough into 12 equal wedges.

With a cookie cutter, remove the center of each circle of dough. You can eat these centers if you want--this dough is really good raw. Put the cookie cutter back in the center; you will bake the cookies with it in.

Put all three pans of dough in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 325 F. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven, gently lift out the cookie-cutters, and re-mark the wedges with the pie marker. Use a fork to poke holes all over the wedges. Put the cookie-cutters back in and return the pans to the oven. Bake for an additional 20 minutes if you like your shortbread pale and tender, or up to 40 more minutes if you like it crispy and golden.

Lift the bottoms of the pans out and slide the circles of cookies onto cooling racks. Break into wedges when cool.

Totally non-traditional variation involving chocolate

While the cookies are in the oven, melt quite a lot of your favorite good-quality chocolate over a double boiler (I'm partial to Trader Joe's "Pound Plus" Belgian milk chocolate for this purpose, and I calculate about a square per cookie, so probably most of a pound for this whole extravaganza).

Spread the chocolate over the cooled cookie-circles. When the chocolate has set up a little, use the pie-marker once again to cut through the chocolate and finally split the circles into wedges. Chill in the fridge till the chocolate hardens, then store the wedges in a tin or cookie jar in a cool place.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 24th, 2007 12:50 am (UTC)
Wow, I had visions of Wonka automatons. They sound delicious!
May. 24th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
They really kind of are--but I hope they're not too Wonka-esque, even all perfect with their little fluted tart-pan edges.

I have a savory variation, too: substitute a cup or two or so of finely grated sharp cheddar and parmesan, plus a teaspoon of cayenne and a bit more salt, for the sugar. They don't actually go with anything, except maybe a cold beer or a hard cider, but they're pretty tasty.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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