I’ve been very focused on quilting recently, so I thought I’d throw in some baking I did about a month ago as a thank you gift to shake things up a little bit.
(Apologies for the picture quality: I borrowed an iPod touch to take these, since my camera wasn’t on hand, and they’re all a bit grainy as a result.)
I decided to give cookies to two people who’d helped me out with applications, and I knew that one of them liked chocolate, and one liked butter cookies. So I decided to make chocolate-dipped shortbread cookies.
The recipe is simple: four parts flour, two parts butter, one part sugar. You can use brown, white or powdered sugar, depending on what you want it to taste like in the end. I tend to use powdered sugar. Take the butter (preferably soft and at room temperature) and cream it with the sugar. Then mix in the flour. It’ll seem like too much, but you should be able to get it all together. (While I sometimes cheat on my order of ingredients, this is one where you really can’t — creaming the butter and sugar first is essential.)
I neglected to take photographs of the dough, so we’ll start with unbaked cookies. I rolled the dough out about 1/2″ thick and cut it with a biscuit cutter – a round cookie-cutter. You could use an upside-down glass, or jar to do the same thing. Some people pat the dough out with their hands, but I try to avoid touching it too much: the more you handle it, the more the butter melts, and that changes how it interacts with the flour when it’s baked, and then your cookies are just a smidge tougher than they might have been.
You can tell this is toward the end of the batch by how crumbly the ones on top look: at that point I had rolled the dough out a couple of times, and it picked up just a little more flour each time. Those cookies still taste good, but they don’t look quite as pretty.
Pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 6-10 minutes, depending on how big the cookies you cut out are. Take them out when they start to look golden-brown around the edges — very pale.
Here you see that I overbaked the first batch, by forgetting to set a timer. Ooops. They still taste okay, but the flavor changes a little bit. And these cookies were supposed to be a gift, so that whole batch was out of the running: too unattractive.
Fortunately, I’d made a triple batch, so I ended up with enough pretty cookies.
And here comes the fun part. One of the two recipients doesn’t like chocolate, so that gift was done, as soon as I boxed it up in a little tin. The other, however, does like chocolate.
So I melted some semi-sweet baking chocolate in my double-boiler.
I dipped each cookie halfway, and set them down on racks to cool, with foil underneath the racks. (I tried foil on top of the racks, under the cookies. It turns out that’s an excellent way to end up with chocolate-covered foil and half-dipped cookies. Put the cookies straight on the rack.)
Voila! Chocolate-dipped shortbread. I tend to keep mine refrigerated, and for a long time (well, as long as I can make it last, that is) — it tastes sweeter over time.