All together now!
The first cookie request was shortbread. One of the easiest things to make and one of the most difficult to perfect. They should be tender, but not flakey, sweet, but not cloying, simple, but flavourful.
Sounds nearly impossible, I know. But really, it's as easy as 1, 2, 3... 4.
This recipe came from an old friend of mine. We did a cookie exchange every xmas, and I'd ransom my army of tiny gingerbread men for her shortbread coins. When I finally saw how she made them, I was stunned. So few ingredients and the preparation breaks all kinds of cookie rules. But, rules were made to be broken, right?
I've actually got plans to break more, so I figure this is a good way to work you into the idea of making cookies in a somewhat less than traditional manner.
- 1 c brown sugar
- 2 c unsalted butter
- 3 c flour
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
Now you know how I managed to remember the recipe all these years.
The most important thing to notice though: UNsalted butter. Most cookie recipes include salt to help the leaveners work, and so salted butter can be used as long as you decrease the added salt. This recipe, you may notice, requires neither of those. No salt to decrease, so no salt in the butter.
Brown sugar is also not entirely traditional, but with the absence of vanilla or any other flavouring the little bit of molasses goes a long way. It also adds a bit of gold to the "coins."
Now, this is where things get a little weird...
Put all of the ingredients into a bowl. (Butter really needs to be soft and room temperature)
I told you we'd be doing weird non-cookie preparation things.
You have to use your hands for this. Have to.
Don't knead, just squish. Kneading will start gluten forming and lengthen the dough. We want shortbreads, not longbreads.
In only a few minutes you'll end up with a very soft ball of dough. And no spoon to wash.
Much too soft to do anything with right now.
So, split it into two, make sausages out of them, and chill them like we did to the creamsicle cookie filling.
Give them at least a half hour to chill and stiffen.
I left mine in there for about 2 hours.
And preheated the oven as soon as I took them out of the fridge.
With a sharp knife, slice them just under a half inch thick. 8mm. or 3/8 of an inch.
They don't spread much so you can pack quite a few onto the parchment covered sheet.
Ideally, shortbread cookies should have no colour on the bottom of them. The low cooking temperature makes that easy. If you use white sugar and temps as low as 200F (you have to cook them for 20-25 minutes in an oven that low) you can get very pale cookies. Me, I like the caramel flavour that comes from the brown sugar and I'm not patient enough to wait 25 minutes for a sheet of cookies.
So, I do these at 300 for 15 minutes. Some came out a little on the golden side, but this is what you're looking for:
Top and bottom are pretty much the same colour.
They're very soft when they come out of the oven. Give them a minute on the sheet, and then slide the parchment onto the cooling rack.
When they're cooled, stack them into the magic cookie tin.
The crumbly, sandy texture of these absolutely melts in your mouth.
A few dozen of these and you can have my entire gingerbread army.
What cookie have you used as currency?