Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Brown Sugar Shortbread

One of my first posts was about my grandparent's neighbor, Gordon. (There was also a really delicious scone recipe.) Meeting Gordon was an interesting treat. He's in his late 90's, he's a retired CFO who lived in New Jersey, and he wears Adidas track suits. When we sat down to talk, Paul had to fix Gordon's hearing aid for him before we could have a real conversation. When I told him that I am a Sunday School Director, he spoke to me about doing things with meaning in a way that still touches me when I think about it.

My mom told me the other day that Gordon isn't doing so well. He's lost a lot of weight and his heart isn't cooperating the way it should. She also told me that when she see's him he still talks about the scones and cookies I made for him in November. There is no time like the present to send Gordon a note telling him that his words still touch me and to let him know we think of him and wish him well. And why not send a treat along too? He's not worrying about calories right now, so some shortbread should do the trick.

I was in the process of making shortbread for Gordon a few months ago when I fell very ill. The recipe I was trying was mostly powdered sugar and butter and was positively sinful, and as much as I love a good sinful cookie, I'd rather keep it wholesome for this particular gift. I knew I didn't want to do a traditional round or square shortbread cookie, and when I found this little scottie dog I knew he was the right choice. Paul had a good laugh at my expense because I giggled with I pulled them out of the oven. They're so cute! But not too cute to escape being devoured...

Brown Sugar Shortbread
highly adapted from Mark Bittman
Yield: up to 3 dozen depending on size
Time: 20 minutes active / 2 hours inactive

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
Use an electric mixer to combine butter and sugar. Mix on low speed until just combined. Continue mixing on low speed and add egg yolk and vanilla, then flour, cornstarch, and salt, until the dough is tender and falling apart.

To make cut out shapes, turn the dough out onto plastic wrap and form into a disc. Wrap and chill for an hour. To make slice and bake cookies, dump dough onto plastic wrap and form into a log. Cover and chill for at least an hour. 

To make shapes, roll out chilled dough on a floured work surface to 1/4" thick. Cut into shapes and arrange on a parchment or baking mat lined cookie sheet. The cookies don't spread much when they bake so you can fit them fairly close together. 

Pop the cookie sheet back in to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 275┬║. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Tonight my family is getting together for a fancy dinner to celebrate my grandparents 64th wedding anniversary. Sixty-four years! Gordon will be receiving his batch of shortbread scottie dogs tomorrow. 

Paul and I are leaving in a week and a half for a two week trip to England. I am positively buzzing with excitement! Two weeks of LOTS of walking, picnics, traipsing around Norwich and Keswick, and meeting people who have been and still are important in Paul's life - not to mention quality time with my in-laws. I look forward to sharing my trip with you and the fabulous food I discover along the way.

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