Happy New Year! I landed back in Saint Louis this week and am trying to clean out my life before the semester starts. With that goal, I decided to return the three foot stack of cooking books I had checked out from the library. Two hours later I had photocopied 21 recipes before marching down to University City public library with two huge bags of books. Ill give you each five bux if I ever get around to all of them...
But I did one! Yom Tov Shortbread Cookies from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman. I've only changed the recipe by one ingredient, so all credit goes to her. Where I grew up there wasnt a distinct Jewish culture that I was aware of. Turns out I was really missing out. The two recipes I have tried from this book have been some of my all time favorites. Challah is next.
Cooking from scratch is basically a pain. Ready to bake stuff is way easier. So I stuck half the dough in the fridge so that later this week I will have ready to bake shortbread cookies :) Ill let you know how that goes.
1 c unsalted butter
2/3 c firmly packed brown sugar (the original recipe uses white, so that's fine, too)
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
a few drops vanilla extract (optional; potent stuff, so seriously, just a few drops)
a note on the butta: DONT USE MARGARINE! okay, thats one. The other is that you're going to cream the butter, so it needs to be softened (left sitting out until its about room temperature and very soft) before you can start. The thing is, I noticed the dough getting harder to handle the longer I worked with it, which I am guessing is because the butter was warming.
So, my suggestion is to leave it out so that its not rock hard as it is coming straight out of the fridge, but to keep it a little cold, work quickly to get them in the oven, and if it gets too hard to shape the cookies, stick the dough in the fridge for a little while.
TO BEGIN: cream the butter. I use a fork and bowl. Most recipes have the hard method; fork and bowl, and the easy method; a food processor. I don't have one. Boo. If you do, you can just pulse the butter and sugar, then add the salt and flour, pulsing all the while. Once it is crumbly, remove it from the processor and use your hands to knead it all together.
Its hard to get all of the flour in this dough because its really stiff, as you can see from the picture of the dough up top and the fact that I could press a little in it :) But just add it slowly and it will work fine.
Preheat oven to 350 and shape the cookies.
On a slightly flowered surface roll the dough out (fear not for lack of a rolling pin - I used my hands) until it is about a half an inch thick, and cut it into shapes. Goldman suggests 3x1 inch strips, marked by the tines of a fork. I thought that looked like little keyboard, hence the name. I tried some other variations and liked the way the little triangles browned the best.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges start to brown, and cool on a cooling rack (this allows the bottoms to get crispy instead of soggy, as they might if they are pressed up against the baking sheet, trapping the moisture it will sweat)
The brown sugar gives it a great, rich flavor and they have a fabulous, buttery, crumbly texture.
Seriously, these are good.