Sunday, February 08, 2004

Threeway Shortbread Cookies Recipe

shortbread cookies
When I was growing up you could tell what season it was by a cursory glance at a bakery's current cookie selection. Christmas tree cookies meant Christmas, shamrock cookies meant St Patrick's day, flag cookies meant 4th of July and of course heart cookies meant Valentine's day. Unfortunately they all tasted exactly the same. And not very good I might add. Oh they looked good with all the colored sprinkles and icing, but they were hard and tough and lacking any flavor as I recall.

A seasonal cookie need not be boring. Melt-in-your-mouth shortbread for example can be shaped, not to mention flavored, any which way. The tricks to making great shortbread are to not over mix the dough--handle it as little as possible, roll it out to a uniform thickness, use the best butter you can get your hands on and don't whatever you do over bake it. Take it out of the oven before it gets brown, it will harden once it cools.

This year I suggest making a variety of heart shaped shortbread cookies for your sweetheart (or sweethearts as the case may be). The dough can be made entirely in the food processor or Kitchenaid type mixer. To prove my point about holiday cookies being tasty, I encourage you to try three different flavors at once--citrus, cinnamon and lavender. Be sure to use "culinary" grade lavender (meaning the type that has not been sprayed with pesticides). The lavender doesn't really taste like much but it gives a lovely scent and texture to the cookies. It also gives you the opportunity to give your darlings flowers and sweets in one fell swoop. Now who wouldn't love you for that?

Threeway Shortbread Cookies
Note: You can substitute cornstarch if you can't find rice flour, but the rice flour really is better, adding a nice crunch to the texture.

Ingredients

Cookie dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rice flour, white or brown
6 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup European style butter
pinch of salt

Flavorings:
1 microplane grate of both orange and lemon rind, 1/4 teaspoon or so total
1 pinch lavender blossoms, food grade
1 pinch ground cinnamon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor blend the butter and sugar. When the sugar and butter are blended add the rest of the dry ingredients. Pulse until blended. Divide the dough into three lumps and add a "flavoring" to each lump. Roll each lump out to 1/4 inch thick and cut into shapes with small cookie cutter (or into strips). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven while still a pale golden color, not brown.

Enjoy!