Friday, July 27, 2012

Two Shortbread Recipes, Perfect for Any Time of Year

Shortbread Fingers with Lavender and Cocoa Shortbread with Chiles. The buttery crumb can’t be beat.

Shortbread with a little nightcap can set the stage for a lovely holiday gathering or the perfect way to end a dinner party. The “short” in shortbread derives from shortening, and anyone familiar with these delicate confections knows that butter plays a prominent role in its flavor and crumb. Culinary scholars like to attribute its 16th-century invention to Mary, Queen of Scots, but many believe the confection is derived from medieval times, when yeasty biscuits were baked twice, hardened into rusks, and sprinkled with sugar and other spices. Today, we eliminate the yeast and only use four basic kitchen staples to create this centuries-old cookie: butter, sugar, salt, and flour. Mix them all up, and form the doughy mass less than a half-inch thick on a baking sheet, and bake.

While “plain” shortbread is fine for your party, we like to add a few ingredients to create a more flavorful crumb. The lavender shortbread is a perfect partner for a Rusty Nail. The floral notes in the buds lend old-world lightness to the sweet and peaty punch in this classic drink. It also pairs exceedingly well with our newest drink, courtesy of Jerry Sheets (Steve’s mom’s husband), called Scotch Aggravation [SEE RECIPE BELOW]. This mix of your favorite blended scotch, with milk and coffee liqueur, will remove any lingering irritations you have carried over into your evening. It tastes a bit like smoked chocolate milk. And if you’re a fan of chiles and chocolate, our Cocoa Shortbread with Chiles will brighten up your taste buds as you sip a creamy, cooling cocktail, such as a Maltese. If the Queen of Scotland had hot peppers and chocolate at her disposal, we’re certain she would have made these her go-to snacks while relaxing at the end of a long workday with a flagon of scotch.

Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes with your shortbread dough.

Shortbread Fingers with Lavender
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender buds, slightly ground or rubbed between the fingers, plus 1 pinch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

Cocoa Shortbread with Chiles
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried hot chiles, ground (or chile powder), plus 1 pinch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Total Time: 50 minutes

Mix butter, sugar, salt, lavender or ground chiles, and vanilla in a bowl until blended well. Add flour (and cocoa, if using) 1/4 cup at a time to the mixture and, using a fork, mix well until the dough comes together. Chill for a half hour. Meanwhile, center the rack in the oven and preheat to 375ºF. Place dough on a naked cookie sheet and, using your hands, form into a rectangle about 12 inches by 3 inches. Sprinkle with a pinch of either rubbed lavender buds or chile powder, depending on the style of shortbread you chose. Prick the dough with the fork over the entire surface. Using a butter knife, score the dough crosswise so that there will be 12 pieces. Bake for about 15–20 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes (the shortbread will still be warm), then slice through the scoring using a sharp knife. Transfer to a flat surface and cool thoroughly

Tips & Tricks
  • You can shape the shortbread dough into a circle and score it so that you will have wedge-shaped cookies. If simple shapes aren’t floating your boat, and you’re making the lavender shortbread, why not use your favorite cookie cutters to create fun shapes. Just shorten baking time by five minutes.
  • If you want your cocoa shortbread spicier, add up to a quarter teaspoon more of the ground chiles or chile powder.

Scotch Aggravation
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz from a recipe by Jerry Sheets)

1 1/2 ounces blended scotch
1 1/2 ounces Kahlúa (or other coffee liqueur)

In an ice-filled rocks glass, add the scotch and Kahlúa, then as much or as little milk as you desire. Stir.

❤ ❤ ❤

More Cocktails to Pair with Shortbread
Rusty Nail (scotch, Drambuie)
The Maltese (Catdaddy spiced moonshine, coffee, cream, egg white, molasses, spiced chocolate shavings)
Farrah Fawcett (light rum, advocate, banana liqueur, coconut, blueberries)
Jack Twist (walnut-infused Jack Daniels, walnut liqueur, dark brown sugar, lemon twist)
White Russian (vodka, coffee liqueur, milk or cream)
Sombrero (coffee liqueur, milk or cream)
Marianne at Midnight (scotch, Tuaca, crème de violette)

photos © Steve Schul and Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz

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