Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pecan Shortbread


Earlier in the week, Dave's colleague, Dr. MacDonald, came over to the farm to start in on a new work project. I always feel terrible if I don't have some sort of little treat to offer our guests (even though I know most of them could care less), so I decided to try whipping up a batch of shortbread.

Dave is, without doubt, a shortbread junkie. Especially when we went to Scotland, he was pretty psyched for all the shortbread we were offered. So I knew Dave would at least be happy. But to be honest, I had never made shortbread before, and because it requires such few ingredients, there was little room for error. I was worried everything that went into making this little morsels had to be top-notch, or else they just wouldn't taste right.

Well, I didn't have the highest quality ingredients, but I had pretty decent ingredients, and I think this shortbread turned out great. It went quick, at least! The key is making sure the butter stays really cold, just like when you make pie crust, biscuits, or any other pastry. I used the shortbread recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook: Celebrating the Promise.

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Shortbread
Makes 16 wedges*

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender**, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Knead until smooth and form into a ball***.

2. To make wedges, on an ungreased cookie sheet, pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Make a scalloped edge. Cut circle into 16 wedges. Leave wedges in a circle. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until bottom starts to brown and center is set. Recut circle into wedges while warm. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.****

*I cut mine into 8 wedges, just because 16 seemed a little skimpy.
** Don't worry about fancy tools like a pastry blender. They have useful applications, but for recipes like this, just cut the COLD butter into cubes and use your fingers. It allows you to really feel the dough and judge its texture.
***I found the dough to be a little dry, so I added 1 tablespoon of cold water. It made a perfect dough.
****I had some finely chopped pecans on hand, so I threw in about 1/4 cup of those pecans in. It was a really nice touch. I also decided that these shortbreads needed some chocolate, so I melted 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, 1 tablespoon of butter, and about 1/4 cup of whole milk (though you could use cream) over a double boiler. I just drizzled this "ganache" over the shortbreads after they were cooled and then sprinkled some more pecans on top, because I like it when food looks like it tastes, know what I mean? I kept them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes to make sure the ganache hardened properly.
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These pictures definitely aren't the best, sorry!

That's it! It was really easy, and I think my first attempt at shortbread was a decent one. Dave and Dr. MacDonald were very productive at their "dining room table" meeting. I'd like to think it was because of the brain fuel I provided them via these cookies, but in reality, it was just because they are both young, brilliant and motivated. Ah, well.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Oh my, this sounds so delicious!