Thursday, December 14, 2023

A Great Cookie Gift

For years I've been making a wonderful chocolate shortbread cookie that is rolled and cut out, but this year I had a request for a Ted Lasso type shortbread cookie...pretty much a Scottish type vanilla shortbread that are cut into fingers after baking. They look plain, but are wonderful! In the photo above, the one at the top left is turned on the side to show you the texture inside...cut this way they are about the same width as height.

I looked at quite a few recipes and found that there are very few variations and that's a good thing. I based mine on some from the Internet, but made a few changes, as I often do.

This shortbread depends on the flavor of the ingredients, especially the butter, so indulge if you can by buying European has a higher butterfat content, too. The end results are tender fingers that almost melt in your mouth. They are not too sweet, especially if you go easy on the sugar topping as I did. The internet recipes called for a tablespoon or more of granulated or raw sugar to be sprinkled on top, either before or after baking. I only used a teaspoon of granulated sugar. That was just right in my opinion.

The great thing about this cookie is that you make the dough in a food processor, so it is quick, and there are so few ingredients that it's ready in no time. You do, however, need to chill the dough in the baking pan for at least half an hour. This helps the butter stay cold at the beginning of the bake.

One of the changes I made was to use part granulated sugar and part confectioners sugar in the dough. The confectioners sugar contains some cornstarch and is traditional for shortbread, but the Ted Lasso recipes pretty much used all granulated sugar. I guess mine is a compromise.

These can be addictive, so consider giving at least half of them as gifts, or put them on a cookie tray at a party. Of course you might be the rare individual who can parcel them out one at a time to themselves over the rest of December. If that's you, save them all for yourself!

Regular shortbread Cookies
Makes 18 or 24 depending on how you cut them

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, strained
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cold

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1) Fit the food processor with a steel blade and place the dry ingredients in the bowl. Cut the cold butter into ½-inch slices over the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Cover and process until the ingredients hold together. Remove the dough from the food processor. Form the dough into a ball and flatten it slightly.

2 ) Prepare and 8"x 8" baking pan by lining with parchment with a couple inches over the sides for handles. Place the dough in the pan and push out to fill pan, including corners. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and then use a spatula or short dowel to flatten the dough evenly. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Remove from fridge and remove plastic wrap.

3)   While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust racks to middle or lower middle. Bake as soon as possible after removing dough from fridge.

4) If desired, sprinkle an additional teaspoon of granulated or raw or turbinado sugar over the pan, evenly.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes until cookies are firm to the touch. The top will be a light golden brown. Place pan on a rack to cool. While cookies are still hot, cut into rectangles of desired size. (I cut them in half one way and into thirds the other way, then cut four cookies from each rectangle.

5) Once cookies are cool, use parchment 'handles' to remove the whole cookie from the pan to a cutting board. Using the pre-cut marks, cut again for sharp sides. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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