Scottish Sharp Cheddar Shortbread

You know me – any chance at a cheese cracker, especially a cheddar cracker, and I am all in. This was a new recipe to me, but it seemed like it had all the things I like about a cheese cracker – with one glaring exception – you had to roll the damn dough out. Ugh. I just hate that beyond words. I will roll out sugar cookies. I will roll out pie dough, but why should I have to roll out crackers. It just seems unnecessary when you can roll cracker dough into a log – chill – slice – and bake and make perfectly good crackers.

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So I decided to buck the recipe and go for what made the most sense to me. Guess what? It totally worked and has made me be a little more critical of all future cracker recipes. Make it easier – why not; it also fits into my favorite way to bake – make the dough one day and bake a day (or two) later. Fits my work week baking plan to a T.

8 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper – 1/4 tsp at a minimum
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Using electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat together butter, salt, black pepper, and cayenne at low speed just until blended. Add Cheddar and flour and mix at low speed just until smooth, Do not over-mix because that makes crappy crackers.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake shortbread until lightly golden and beginning to brown on edges, about 13 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Source: Epicurious

Original Directions: Shape dough into disk, wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and chill 30 minutes. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4- to 1/8-inch-thick round. Using 1 1/2- to 2-inch round cutter, cut out rounds and arrange 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Reroll scraps if desired (rerolled scraps will be tougher).

This is why rolling out crackers is just annoying. I think I have figured out the best way to do it. Out of laziness. Yep, that is me.

Butter / Egg Usage – December 2016

December started out for me on the 16th. This does not a good month of cooking/baking make. I mean it is December after all, but sometimes after Thanksgiving, you just do the best that you can do. Sad, but true. That and my dishwasher died – serious impediment to doing anything in the kitchen. It is surprising how much so.

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Southern Toffee

16 December 2016 – 12 Tbs / 2 eggs – Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

18 December 2016 – 24 Tbs – Southern Toffee 

22 December 2016 – 2 eggs – M&M Cookies

26 December 2016 – 8 Tbs unsalted butter- Chex Mix

26 December 2016 – 16 Tbs / 2 eggs – Sugar Cookies

26 December 2016 – 4 Tbs – Real Macaroni and Cheese

27 December 2016 – 2 Tbs – Sautéed Apples

30 December 2016 – 12 Tbs – Pecan Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Cook’s Country

30 December 2016 – 5 1/3 Tbs – Sausage Cheddar Scallion Biscuit Bread
Eggs = 6

Butter = 83.3 Tbs = 10.4125 sticks – 41.65 ozs – 2.603 pounds.

Eggs = 2 +2 +2 +6 – math is involved. = 12 large eggs.

 

 




Pecan Toffee Shortbread – Cook’s Country

I have a thing about shortbread. It really is kind of magical. I think it is the butter that makes it so good – a shortbread is a butter cookie after all. I do love a recipe that you can mix a day or two ahead and then bake it at your leisure. They say “marry in haste and repent in leisure.” Cookies are not that way – leisure can totally fit into the picture and I think cookies that sit in the fridge for a day or so are always better – when you have the time, that is. They can be convenient if you plan a little ahead,  which I always (almost always) do – because that is just me. I made this recipe the first time in 2009 and I thought it was good, but I think I may need to make improvements to this recipe – see my notes below.dd_1763

I am not a fan of a dough you have to roll out. I think that tells you lots about me. I am lazy-ish mostly – even in baking. Sigh.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped pecans – Renroes, of course.
1/2 cup toffee bits
Confectioners’ sugar*

Sift together flour, cornstarch, and salt over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, both sugars, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture, chocolate, pecans and toffee. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for an hour or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters, re-rolling as necessary. Place cookies 1 inch apart and bake until edges are golden brown, about 12 – 14 minutes, rotating half way through. Cool 10 minutes on baking sheet. Sift confectioners’ sugar over to serve. 

Notes:
This is a good recipe, but somehow it just has too much stuff in it to be a shortbread. It is a bit of a pain to roll out – mini chips, toffee, pecans (and I did make them small). I tried to make it simple, but I also wonder if I could not make the same cookie and then roll it into a log and slice and bake – yes, the lazy is coming right back. I do not like rolling out dough, sugar cookies being the exception (and there are several examples of that). I do the same thing with cheese crackers – just give me a slice and bake and I am a very happy girl.

*I kind of skipped the confectioners’ sugar for this and went for sanding sugar. Confectioners’ sugar sort of disappears after a bit (read: very short period of time), but I do like sanding sugar, and since I have been making sugar cookies recently, it was what was in my mind and I thought it worked well.

2015 – Two years ago – Sweet Tomato Chutney

Butter / Egg Usage – October 2016

1 October 2016 – Red Onion White Wine OJ Butter Sauce Pasta with spinach tortellini  – 4 Tbs

14 October 2016 – Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies – 16 Tbs / 2 large eggs

15 October 2016 – Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins – 5 1/2 Tbs / 2 large eggs

19 October 2016 – Shortbread – 16 Tbs

19 October 2016 – Best Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies – 12 Tbs / 1 large egg

25 October 2016 – Cheddar, Corn, and Sausage Muffins – 4 Tbs / 2 large eggsdd_1591

27 October 2016  – Lemon Bars – 16 Tbs butter / 5 large eggs

28 October 2016 – Pecan Sandies – 16 Tbs butter

28 October 2016 – Lemon Crisps– 8 Tbs butter / 1 large egg

97.5 Tbs = 12.1875 sticks = 48.75 ozs = 3.04 pounds 

13 eggs 

I will have to add this all up just to see where it gets me for this year. This is not a bad month after all. Might even make up for my crappy summer. But probably will not. 

“Meyer” Lemon Bars

I have this habit of asking people what they would like me to bake or cook for them. It keeps me interested in baking and cooking and pushes me outside of what I typically do. I do it at work, “what do you guys want me to make for the pot-luck?” and I do the same thing at my favorite restaurants. I think restaurant staff is not appreciated enough. Guess that comes from being a server ages ago. I hope they appreciate it, but it is more to get me to try to do different things.dd_1599

So I asked Berta, at my beach local, to tell me what she would like in the baking department, and she said my baking nemesis – lemon bars. I have not had good luck with these in the past – at all. That said, I was going to give it another go – it is a challenge after all. And I never back down from a challenge.

This is a recipe on my little USB drive of recipes that I have been working on for ages and I just sort of picked it out of the two I had. It was daunting – I have to admit that I was not comfortable trying this idea again. I did this on a Thursday because I figured if I fucked it up, I would have Friday to try again. And I am really not scared in the baking department, but you never know if things are going to go pear-shaped.

I have to say, I just cut a corner out of this and just got stupid over how good it was. That is, indeed, a good sign. I guess when I get silly about something in the kitchen, that makes me happy and pleased with myself. And that makes me think it will be something other people will like too.

Personally, I would like to keep the entire pan of these lemon bars to myself, but I won’t. But I will damn sure to make this recipe again. The original called for Meyer lemons, but I only have those when my (precious) little tree produces Meyer lemons and this is totally the wrong time of year, so I just used regular lemons. It was amazing. Stupidly so. Yeah me! yep.

Meyer Lemon Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

I think I made a few friends with these – at least I really hope so. Berta loved them and her daughter asked for them on her birthday at the end of November. I guess there are more lemon people than I had imagined. I shared one of my favorite lemon things ever – lemon, white chocolate chip cookies – they sound slightly weird, but they are stupid good.

And then in my head – lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for another person that is a lemon person. I think we have to stick together. There just are not that many of us. Lemon People Unite – or something?  No, that just does not work. I guess you chocolate people have us outnumbered. Again.

Shortbread

Shortbread is an odd little cookie if you ask me. It is not sweet, much, and can be a bit difficult to work with, but I am a fan. Although it is not the first thing I would go for in the baking/cookie department. I think is pretty much amazing with tea though, I guess that is because it is a Scottish biscuit in origin. And I have to say, I do sort of mess with the general idea of shortbread – see: vanilla and sanding sugar.dd_1583

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted*
1/2 -3/4 tsp vanilla (optional, well, not really)
Sanding sugar (optional, nope, not really)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until slightly lighter in color and smooth. Sift confectioners’ sugar and salt over a piece of waxed paper. Beat with butter until light, fluffy, and smooth. Add a bit of vanilla if preferred.

Sift flour over waxed paper. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Scrape soft dough onto plastic wrap. Cover with more plastic wrap and pat until a bit thin. Rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour – it needs to be firm to the touch.**

Using flour, roll out shortbread dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Use your favorite cookie cutters (my mom’s) or a biscuit cutter and put the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cool the cookies in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or whatever sugar you feel inclined to use.

Bake until the tops are golden, about 12-14 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

* confectioners’ sugar always needs to be sifted. It is just a given.

** I chilled overnight because I am kind of lazy that way. Well, not really. Here’s the deal – I make a dough one night and bake it later, usually the next day. It works because I can do each step – make and then bake the next day – because during the week my baking occurs after work. I also justify this by the fact that I have read that cookie dough gets better with a bit of time in the fridge. Sure – that works for me – after all I’m making cookies during the week, not just on the weekend.

I have had this recipe in my cookie binder, yes, I have that, for a long time and I think trying to find the source of this recipe when the title is only “shortbread” is nigh on impossible. So I won’t but will thank the gods that be for a pretty good recipe that I messed with just enough to make be really happy.

 

Shortbread with chocolate chips and toffee bits

I am a huge fan of shortbread. I mean, come on, it is basically a butter cookie and then you are going to add chocolate, but even better (!) – toffee chips. Yes – I did just say that – toffee chips. Damn skippy. I think next time it will just be toffee chips. That sounds like a breakfast cookie to me. Lots of things sound like breakfast cookies to me though, so I probably should not be trusted at this point. D&D_1448

1 cup unsalted  butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted – must be sifted
1 teaspoon  vanilla
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips – or however much you want – just saying
3/4 cup English toffee bits, such as Heath (the ones without chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Sift together the flour and salt on a piece of waxed paper. Cream the butter and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add the vanilla, and then add the flour mixture. By hand, mix in the chocolate chips and toffee bits.
With a cookie scoop, drop cookies onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake until the edges are just starting to brown, about 12 to 15 minutes, turning the baking sheet half way through – it is just a thing I do. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container, like one does with all cookies.
Many thanks to Farmgirl Fare for the excellent recipe. I do love the banners for that site and then there are pictures of donkeys. I always though I would have a few donkeys, but I just do not think it will work out now. That said, I think I could pull off having a mini donkey and say it was a German Shepherd Dog. Totally  – could pull that off.