Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cookies that travel

I have a couple of friends that I have recently wanted to send cookies to, but these friends live on the other side of the country, so I needed a cookie that would travel well.  Not too fragile, longer shelf life, and of course, tasty.  Shortbread cookies fit the bill for this particularly well. 

Please allow me to extol to you the virtues of the shortbread cookie.  They are tasty when made in their original, unflavored way, but they are so versatile!  You can add any number of flavorings to get all kinds of different tastes!  It also helps that they are super simple to make, and you can make the dough days ahead and just let it hang out in your fridge until you're ready to slice and bake!  I'm actually going to share with you two different shortbread recipes -- not just different in final product, but also different in preparation.  Honestly, I liked both cookies, so you pick which method you like best.

Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
Makes: 2 dozen or so

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea bags
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, tea, and salt, until the tea is just spotted throughout the flour. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and butter.  Pulse together just until a dough is formed. Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll into a log, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Twist each end of the wrap tightly, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the log into 1/3-inch thick disks. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Baked until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

White Chocolate & Cherry Shortbread Cookies
Source: Love and Olive Oil
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

2/3 cup maraschino cherries, drained
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
12 ounces good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 drops red food coloring
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Pulse cherries briefly in a food processor until finely chopped. This should produce about 1/2 cup of chopped cherries.  Spread them out on a double layer of paper towels to remove any excess liquid.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the drained cherries and 4 ounces of the chopped chocolate. Pulse briefly to combine. Finally, ad the almond extract and food coloring.  Knead the mixture until it comes together in a smooth ball.  (fp note: cover any surfaces with plastic wrap that will be in contact with the dough. food coloring makes a mess, yo.)

Divide dough in half, and roll each half into a cylinder approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter by 10 inches long.  Roll up in parchment paper or plastic wrap, twisting ends to seal. Refrigerate for at least  1 hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Working with one log at a time, slice it into disks about 3/8" thick and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Back for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set and bottoms are lightly golden. Cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To prepare the white chocolate drizzle:  Melt the remaining white chocolate with the veggie oil in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring constantly to prevent burning.  When it is cool enough to not burn you, but still liquid, put it in a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (fp note: normally i would put it in a squeeze bottle, but i don't have a funnel, so getting the chocolate into the bottle was too much hassle.).  Drizzle the melted chocolate on the cooled cookies and leave them alone until the chocolate has set. 

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