December 05, 2006

The Best Shortbread Eeeevvverrrr

People get dogmatic about it.
They get testy.
It's too crunchy, it's not crunchy enough.
Too sweet, too greasy...
Once it's in their mouths, they either gag or look sublime...

aaaah...shortbread.

I thought I knew shortbread...I've been to the bottom of many a Peek Frean's bag. I thought I knew. I've devoured plenty of shortbread that looks from its wrapping like it's been picked fresh off the heather-covered hills on the north side of Hadrian's Wall, in the home of Pringle pullovers, the home of lads and lasses, the birthplace of haggis and itchy shetland wool (both testament to the sheep's last laugh)...

I didna kno nothin...I'm a wee bairn in the world of shortbread.

At least I was until I was trained in this wondrous example of whipped shortbread. At the risk of getting unimaginative, this tooooooo, is from my lovely friend Karen, who has just moved from our lovely city of Toronto - and the city is the sadder for her absence.

One year we, the graces and I, got together not long before Christmas to bake a whole batch of stuff. Karen brought recipes for the shortbread, for cranberry squares, for almond cookies and truffles...a few of the specimens made it home in the box...the remainder came home wrapped on our hips. But we drank wine, ate munchies, and stood around the big harvest table at Jain's stirring, mixing, spooning and gabbing...moments of grace that make me grateful these beautiful women are in my life.

Now theeeez shortbreads are the kind that are gentle, kind, and just melt in your mouth - you don't actually eat them, you just infuse them into your body through your mouth. I hope you love them as much as I do...the secret is in the icing sugar and in the whipping...

Whipped Shortbread
1 cup butter (unsalted is better)
1/2 cup of icing sugar
1 1/2 cup of flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Cream the ingredients together. Beat/whip for 10 minutes (this is a breeze if you have a standing mixer). You can grease a cookie sheet or two while you're waiting. Drop the batter in tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
I check on mine at the ten minute mark...they're ready when they start getting brown on the edges. I found letting them cool on the cookie sheets makes them easier to move later, because they can be quite fragile as newborn cookies.

Prepare a cup of tea...grab your book or crossword...curl up with your dog/cat/spouse/tartan velour throw and just live to taste and enjoy. Peace.

*that's a picture of Steve's legs in the kilt he wore for our wedding...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

For the crunch, if your palette pleases, add some crushed pecans.

Missing you Nic...

Nicola said...

oh yeah...that's a great idea...kkkkkkarreennnn...see? you should be the one with the blog!

Annie said...

Mmmmm...

The best way to eat shortbread cookies is with a nice glass of single malt whisky (scotch, of course), especially in front of the fire after dinner. Recommend something finished in a sherry cask, like Glendonnach or the 12-year-old Macallan.... oh, now I can't wait until dark...