Last year I went kind of crazy with Christmas cookies, but between following Weight Watchers and how busy things have been, holiday baking just hasn’t been a priority. Which is not to say that I haven’t made some delicious treats.
As a repeat of last year, I made Alton Brown’s Paradise Coconut Macaroons. They turned out well again, and David’s still happily munching on them. The one hiccup was that as I went to make the cookies, I realized I was out of sweetened condensed milk. Luckily, I found a substitution recipe online that worked perfectly, using ingredients we already had on hand. Success! Check it out at the bottom of the page if you’re interested.
I also made peppermint bark again, and my friend Cara came over and made mock-turtles. Very tasty, very simple, and with her perfect football-shaped pretzels, very cute. You may hear more about that soon.
But the point of this post is the new recipe I tried this year: Shortbread. The most recent issue of Food Network Magazine had an awesome little pullout booklet of 50 cookie recipes. The gist of the pamplet is summed up here. What I liked about it is that you started with just a handful of classic, straightforward recipes, followed by several creative variations on the same recipe. I took the classic Shortbread recipe and doubled it, making one batch of Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread and one batch of Lemon Shortbread Squares. I tweaked the basic recipe to get the texture that I wanted, and was very happy with the instructions below. It’s for the Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread, but if you want plain shortbread, skip the chocolate dipping steps, and if you want it to have a little bit of bright, lemony flavor, add a little bit of fresh lemon zest with the flour mixture.
- 2 sticks butter (preferably unsalted. If using salted butter, omit additional salt below)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradhelli)
- flake sea salt
Beat 2 sticks butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until fluffy. Whisk 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt, then stir into the butter mixture. Press into a buttered 8-inch square or 9-inch round tart pan. Score into strips with a fork, then chill 30 minutes. Bake about 1 hour at 300 degrees. Cool, then slice along the scored lines.
Melt bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler. Dip cooled shortbread pieces in chocolate, and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Allow to cool completely before serving.
Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute
- 1 cup instant non-fat dry milk
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
In a blender, combine ingredients and blend until smooth. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Makes the equivalent of one 14 ounce cane.