Saturday, January 3, 2015

My attempt at Shortbread Cookies

Every year my mom and I bake tons of Christmas cookies together and every year we eat them all and wish we hadn't.  Don't get me wrong, they are delicious and I often thought Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without them, but this year which may be the first time ever we didn't do it.  Instead of a full day baking and weeks of eating I decided to make just one cookie to enjoy on Christmas day.  

Two years ago my parents went to Scotland and brought me back a shortbread mould and a shortbread recipe from their friends that they stayed with and this was the perfect time to try it out.  

I must confess right away, this post was supposed to happen before Christmas and my cookies were supposed to be amazing on my first try.  Of course, as with many of my plans things went wrong and it's my fault.  Here's what went wrong and what went right on my second try.

Here is the recipe and my story...

8 oz Unsalted Butter
8 oz Plain Flour
4 oz Corn Flour
4 oz Caster Sugar

First lets talk about the ingredients and what to use in America since this recipe is from Scotland.  I did a little research and read that the butter is super important since that's where the flavor comes from.  In Scotland the butter is different than it is here, they have different cows; their cows are cuter and they make different tasting butter.  I was happy to find at Sprouts and Wholefoods a butter from Ireland and England.  The butter from Ireland was cheaper so that's what I bought, I'm cheap.   

Their plain flour is the same as our all purpose flour and it was easy to find corn flour.  The caster sugar was a little more tricky, I read that you can find it here but it's expensive so I decided to make my own.  Caster sugar is a very fine sugar, but don't get it confused with powdered sugar.  You can take you own granulated sugar and grind it down into a finer sugar and use that.  I read about some people using a food processor and a coffee grinder, so coffee grinder it was.  

Once your sugar is ready to go add the butter at room temperature and all the other ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.  Some recipes online say to do this by hand but Martha Stewart says this is only the case because in the olden days they did not have power.  As Gwyneth Paltrow knows you do not argue with Martha, so in the mixer went my ingredients.

This is what it looks like all ready to go and this is where my problems started.  I first attempted to use the mould my mom gave me and it never worked.  I would get the dough in the mould put in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, but I could never get the dough back out to bake.  Yes, I tried buttering it, I tried flouring it, I tried buttering and flouring, I tried everything and it just never worked out for me.  Some day when I figure it out I will post it but today is not that day.  Martha Stewart uses really cute tart moulds which I do not have, so I used an old pie pan.  You can split the dough in half and fill 2 pans with this recipe. 

This dough is really sticky so use some cling wrap when smoothing the dough into the pan and then prick some holes all over so it doesn't rise too much in the oven.

My cookies did rise a little and the holes disappeared every time. Oh and you see that tea pot cookie cutter in the picture? I had the genius idea of using the dough like sugar cookie dough to make shapes..this did not work out, the dough just turns into blobs in the oven. 

Now here is where I had the biggest problem...

All over the internet people were giving different temperatures and one person even said to bake at a high temperature for 5 minutes and then turn it down.  Well instead of just following the recipe I had and cooking it for 45 minutes at 320 degrees Fahrenheit I got creative and cooked it at a high temperature.  The dough bubbled! Crazy bubbles all over and the cookies were not pretty.  They tasted fine but they were extra crumbly and ugly.

After Christmas I had a chance to make these again, this time I followed the rules and cooked them at 320 degrees Fahrenheit.  You do not want them to brown just to firm up, so start checking on them early, maybe 25 to 30 minutes in and leave them until they are golden and firm.  

Take them out, sprinkle with some of the fine sugar, and cut them into slices.  If you wait too long to cut them they will break.  Once they have cooled a little transfer them to a cooling rack to finish.

bubbly, extra crumbly, ugly, but tasty cookies

At last! A pretty, no bubbles cookie.

1 comment :

  1. Well all I know is that the first batch tasted good, would sure like to try some from the second batch.