Tag Archive | butter

Shortbread!

I have a terrible memory. Tonight I found a box of dark brown sugar I brought home two weeks ago.  Somehow it made it in from the car in a bag of used books I bought at the library.  Sure could have used that last week!

But sometimes having a bad memory pays off, like tonight.  In addition to finding the lost box of brown sugar in a bag of books in my bedroom, I also found a tin of Maple Shortbread cookies I baked on Friday.

Fresh out of the oven they were tasty, a bit heavy on the butter. At the time I was not sure if this was the maple cookie I was ready to commit to.  I packaged the best looking ones in the boxes of goodies to out on Sunday, holding back a few that were over baked.  I figured I would probably throw them away, but instead stashed them in a tin and forgot them.

Five days later they were like a whole new cookie.  They were crisp, not crumbly and the maple flavor had mellowed nicely and overtaken the butter as primary flavor.  Even almost burnt they were delish!  Mr. Sugar Mamma and my girl Tea have declared the Maple Shortbread to be their new favorite cookie.

So round up those now empty Christmas cookie tins that you never know what to do with, fill them with Maple Shortbread cookies and forget about them for a couple of days.  Warning: unless you have a horrible memory, this might be hard to do.  Totally ignore that fresh baked cookie smell as they come out of the oven.  It will be totally worth it to allow these cookies to sit un-eaten for a few days. Trust me!  Sugar Mamma Rating: Solid:  Make them now, impress the ones you love (in a few days).

Maple shortbread ready for the oven

Maple Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup pure maple sugar (I was not able to find in the grocery store so bought online)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup rice flour or corn starch (substitute all purpose flour if you do not have on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment

Add sugars, flours and salt to the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse once to mix ingredients.  Add pieces of butter and pulse until all butter is cut into dry ingredients.  Add vanilla and pulse a few seconds to incorporate.  Dough will be dry and sandy.

Transfer to another bowl or the counter and use your hands to work the dough into a ball. It should come together easily.

You can chill the dough for an hour before rolling, but I had no problem rolling it right from the mixer.

Sprinkle dough and counter lightly with flour and roll to ¼ inch thick.

Cut with cookie cutter

Place cookies on sheet and sprinkle with a little maple sugar

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until just lightly brown.  Watch carefully so that any smaller/thinner cookies don’t burn.  Underdone is better than over done.

Let sit on the baking sheet a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container, and avoid any temptation to eat them before they have sat for at least one day.  Really. Worth. The. Wait.

Note: The original King Arthur recipe involves creaming the sugar and butter first. My experience with this method results in puffy cookies, which I don’t really like in a shortbread.  I will probably try out the original recipe at some point in the future, just to test if there is a difference.

Brownies for Breakfast

Flipping through a cookie book the other night before bed, a recipe for blonde brownies caught my eye.

“essentially the classic Toll House cookie pressed into a pan…”

Wait… What? And the recipe called for chocolate chips?

Who are we fooling, that was a Toll House cookie bar, not a blonde brownie. Come on, people!  Buttery butterscotch, crispy and chewy, almost salty; that was the blonde brownie I wanted, and suddenly I wanted it bad.

Chatting with my Mom the next day, I hit her up for her blondie recipe.  Three things you should know about my baking habits:  One is that I don’t normally bake for myself.   Two is that when I do bake for myself it will be the most basic combo of butter and sugar: shortbread, scones, waffles. Three, I don’t ever bake stuff for myself that my Mom makes. Why struggle to make something when you can just sweetly ask Mom to make it for you.  Also, why run the risk of not being able to do it as well as she does. If you bungle a recipe from Martha Stewart, you can blame smug old Martha. Bungle a beloved cookie your mom can make in her sleep  and you are headed for therapy. My Mom’s sugar cookies taste like heaven.  My attempt at  sugar cookies taste like failure.

I was not even sure what these blond brownies were called.  Blondies? Butterscotch brownies?  I’d never sought out the recipe; why mess with something that Mom makes perfect? Two things you should know about my Mom: One, she is the baking bomb!  Two: Her Mom, my Grandma, is the baking bomb times a thousand!  The source of all baking greatness. Seriously, my Grandma is a one woman bake shop. The birthday cakes she made when we were kids are legendary! And for her, it was no big deal.  I am still not brave enough to attempt some of the stuff she would whip up in an afternoon.

Descended from all this baking greatness, I grew up knowing how to bake, and assumed, erroneously,  anything I tried my hand at would be delicious.  I’ve never had much luck with bread.  It never occurred to me that my kitchen might be too damn cold to get any bread to rise. I just assumed a genetic defect in somewhere in my own DNA, and gave up trying. (That is, until recently, but that is another post all together)

Equipped with the super simple recipe for Mom’s Blonde Chews, and my weird collection of baking baggage, I hit the kitchen last night.  These blondies are the Plain-Jane, girl-next-door of the brownie world.  Not much to look at, but oh, baby! You will fall in love soon enough. Crispy and chewy, sweet, buttery and a little salty.  Sugar Mamma rating: Solid.  Make these soon.

BLONDE CHEWS

Makes 24 bars.

2/3 cup butter

2 cups firmly-packed brown sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup chopped walnuts

Melt butter in large saucepan; stir in brown sugar. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Beat in eggs,( be careful not to cook eggs in warm mixture). Stir in vanilla

In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir into butter, sugar, egg mixture.  Stir in nuts.

Spread dough in bottom of greased 13-inch x 9-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350° F for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is golden. Cool in pan on rack.

Baking Progress

Been in the kitchen since 7 am. Baking, then to Murphy’s for guitar lessons, back home for more baking, impromptu dinner party…

Here are some photos from early in the day. At some point I switched from iPad to camera to document my progress. Now I am in bed and the camera is in the kitchen, those photos will have to wait till tomorrow. I am too stuffed to move. The bread pudding turned out great, but the ginger pear cake was even better. Tomorrrow we see how this week’s quest for the perfect croissant will play out.

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Apples, cranberries, pecans, butter, brown sugar cook down for bread pudding.

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One pound of butter pounded and rolled into a sheet for tomorrow’s croissants

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Apple & Cranberry Bread Pudding with Maple and Pecans.