Saturday, January 16, 2010

Claire's Take on Ina's Shortbread

This shortbread cookie recipe is from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.  I am a huge fan of Ina Garten and her cookbooks.  I love her recipes because it seems to me that she really wants everyone to try them --experienced cook or not.  She uses few ingredients in most of her recipes and her recipes are easy.  She usually has about a dozen recipes per category (i.e., appetizers, dinner, dessert, etc.) so one can easily see making everything in her cookbooks! 

I bake these cookies for party favors, school birthday snacks, teacher appreciation luncheons..... I bake them at least a couple times a month.  These are certainly easy but, more importantly, they are always a hit with EVERYONE.   The above picture shows the latest batch ready to be loaded into my Suburban for transport to school --a little going-away party for a special little girl who is moving away.

Below I have adapted and pieced together two of her recipes.  One for the shortbread cookie and the other for her simple glaze.  I add my touch with chocolate writing on the finished cookie.  Very special I think. 

Claire's adaptation of Ina's Shortbread
¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into 2 flat rectangular disks. Wrap in plastic and chill for 20-30 minutes. 

Once the 20-30 minutes is up it is time to roll out the cookie dough and cut it into shapes.  I find it helpful to roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper.  Roll the dough ½ inch thick, lift the top sheet of wax paper and cut with your choice of cutter. Slide the entire sheet of wax paper (with dough that has been cut with cookie cutter) onto a cookie sheet.  Place this cookie sheet directly into the freezer for at least 10 minutes.  Continue this same process with the rest of the dough and transfer to the freezer --you may stack wax paper with dough onto the same cookie sheet. 

Now, turn the oven to 350.  While the oven is heating up you can start taking the chilled dough out of the freezer and separating the shapes from the dough.  I usually place the individually cut cookies back onto the wax paper on the cookie sheet and return to the freezer.  Now all the cookies are cut and ready to place on an ungreased baking sheet for baking.  They should bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges begin to turn a light golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Once the cookies are completely cooled you may add the glaze.  Combine 1 cup confectioners sugar with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl.  Whisk together until smooth.  Brush or spoon onto the cookies to lightly coat.  Allow the cookies to dry completely --the top of the cookies should be completely dry to the touch before you continue with the chocolate writing.

For the chocolate writing you will need about 1-2 ounces of chocolate.  I use Scharffenberger, Callebaut, El Rey, and Ghiradelli.  You may use ANY chocolate --Hershey's chips will be just fine.  I realize I forgot to take pictures of the paper cone you will need to use to write with the melted chocolate.  Stay tuned I will add later --I promise!

These are the cold cut out cookies (I use a 2-inch square cutter) straight from the freezer and placed on an ungreased (room temperature) cookie sheet and then baked in the oven.