Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shortbread Cookies - Raspberry and Almond


So, yes, I am on a bit of a shortbread cookie kick right now.  I'm like this with most things in life...can't get enough of something and then move on to the next obsession!  Meals, TV shows, songs, outfits, and now shortbread cookies.

This time, I wanted to add different extracts to my favorite shortbread recipe; the one I used for the Cherry Hearts Dipped in Chocolate.  I love it as a buttery shortbread, but I also think it's a good base for adding different flavors to change things up.  The Peanut Butter with Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies and Dutch Chocolate Shortbread with Peanut Butter Chips Cookies recipes are quite different from this one.  Those, as I wrote, are melt-in-your-mouth soft, crumbly cookies.  This recipe has an initial "crunch" at first bite with a soft chewy center.  I really love that combination.

I was making these cookies as a "Thank You", which was a great opportunity to use my new cutter set from Williams-Sonoma.  There are three basic shapes and removable sayings and letters to spell out whatever you wish.  This was my first time using them:

As I was going through lots of shortbread cookie recipes trying to find what I wanted to use, I read many user comments and one thing really stuck out to me.  People seem to confuse shortbread cookies with cut-out cookie recipes.  There seems to be an expectation that using a cookie cutter with shortbread will produce the same result as sugar cookies.  This is not at all true.  I was not sure what to expect using these cutters, especially with the words imprinted, I was completely experimenting.  Shortbread cookies are very crumbly and do not hold their shape as precisely when baking as cut-outs.  They are a dryer tasting cookie, delicious in their own way, but different.  Knowing this ahead of time will help manage expectations of what you are trying to achieve.

Shortbread Cookies
Adapted slightly from Ina Garten

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon raspberry extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
A few drops red food coloring (to desired hue)
6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

(To make the almond version, substitute 1 teaspoon almond extract for the raspberry extract and omit the food coloring)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together butter and one cup of sugar until they are just combined.  Add the vanilla, raspberry extract and food coloring..  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt and add them to the butter/sugar mixture.  Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.  Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut with chosen cutter.  Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar.  

Bake 20-25 minutes or until edges begin to brown slightly.  DO NOT OVERBAKE!!!  Allow to cool to room temperature.

When the cookies are cooled, place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Put 3 ounces of chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Stir with a wooden spoon.  Continue to head and stir in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is just melted.  Add the remaining chocolate and allow to sit at room temperature , stirring often, until it is completely smooth.  Stir vigorously until the chocolate is cooled and smooth and slightly cooled.  Stirring makes it glossier.

Drizzle each cookie half way with enough chocolate to coat it.

First, though these may not be the pretties cookies, they taste GOOD!  I love this recipe!!  You may note what I was talking about with the shape holding up while baking.  The letters are askew and uneven.  Fortunately, this does not affect the taste!  For this cookie experiment, the flavor was a success, the cut-outs not so much.  Next time, I will use a simple cutter with no lettering.

This will conclude my foray into shortbread cookies!  I have several orders to fill in the next few days that need my attention.  There will be cakepops, brownies, bailey's cupcakes, green velvet cupcakes, and Minnie Mouse cupcakes.  Yay!

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