shortbread Baked Explorations style

I visited their bakery in Charleston, SC last year, and my library contains both their cookbooks.  The latest book, “Baked Explorations,” contains their version of many old classics such as Mississippi Mud Pie and Buckeyes.
…and Shortbread.  
It’s not yet time to bake nor to post ‘holiday’ looking cookies; however, I wanted to see if this shortbread recipe would hold it’s shape baked into little gingerbread shaped men.  After refrigerating the dough overnight, cutting the men and refrigerating again for about an hour, I can say and show that the dough did hold it’s shape baked into little 2″ shortbread men.  
The fork-prick made cute buttons.  There is no question about the flavor and texture – Awesome!
I highly recommend this book.  You will be inspired to bake!
two little…

 three little…

 four little shortbread men…

Life Frosty, these little men will be ‘back again some day…’

Scotch shortbread

I’m impressed with the texture and the taste and the golden color of this shortbread. But I’m most impressed with the ‘perfect points!’  This shortbread cuts easily and yields perfect points in the center.

I stored the shortbread overnight in a tin.  When I lifted the lid of the tin the next day, the rich, buttery aroma drifted up and into my senses much like being enrobed in an old, threadbare, Grandmother – quilt.

The original recipe is from Michael Ruhlman and can be found here.  One of the comments to the original post stated that this shortbread is a delightful compliment to a glass of high-quality, single malt Scotch.  I didn’t have Scotch; I tasted my shortbread with a steaming cup of Tazo black tea.  Delicious!

Be sure you include the rice flour in the batter.  It does make a difference!

sunlight and shadows:

I dusted the top of this shortbread with vanilla sugar immediately after removing from the oven.

I like shortbread

A basic shortbread recipe combines such simple ingredients, yet the sum of the parts is far past simple.  I use the best ingredients I can find, and the result is spectacular.
This cacao nib shortbread recipe is adapted from Anita at ‘Dessert First,’ and you can find the original recipe here.
Listed below is my adaptation of the shortbread recipe.
Stir together and sit aside:
6.75 oz plain flour
2.5 oz brown rice flour
Cream with mixer for 3-4 minutes:
8 oz Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, at room temperature
3.5 oz granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
Remove mixer bowl from mixer stand. Gently stir in flours using wooden spoon, combining only until mixed.  
Stir in 1/3 cup cacao nibs – I used theo cacao nibs in this recipe; however, I have used nibs from King Arthur Flour in the past and they are also great.
Turn dough out on to saran, wrap tightly and refrigerate.
When ready to bake, roll to 1/4″ thick, and cut as desired.
Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 325 degree oven for about 17 minutes.
Sprinkle with granulated sugar immediately after removing from oven.
Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
I store cooled cookies in leftover Christmas tins and separate the layers of cookies with pieces of the parchment paper used for baking (recycle!).
enjoy – - -
mixing with my favorite wooden spoon from Sis and D’s Handmade Spoons
velvety, squishy, nibby, buttery, shortbread dough

mixed dough is shaped (I used a loaf pan to shape dough into a rectangle) and chilled overnight -
later rolled into 1/4″ thick rectangle and chilled again -
later cut and chilled again -
and finally baked

sunlight and shadows:
the dough held it’s shape beautifully after baking – no spreading edges

vanilla sugar crystals:

lavender shortbread

This recipe bakes to a rich, buttery, melt in your mouth cookie.  Add to that combination a hint of lavender, and the creation is a cookie that’s simple, yet sophisticated in flavor.

The mixing, chilling, and baking process is simple.  In the future, I will chop the lavender before adding it to the cookie dough.  You will notice lines/indentions in the cookies.  While slicing the cookie dough logs, the knife pulled the lavender buds, and formed unattractive lines on the surface of the cookies.

Though not perfect in appearance, these cookies are outstanding in flavor.   I’ll add this cookie to my classy ‘tea-time’ cookie list along with the Rose Water Almond Tea cookies which were adapted from the blog Baking Obsession.

You can find the recipe for the lavender shortbread at the blog Dessert First.  Penzey’s stocks the culinary lavender; however, they do not display the lavender on the retail store shelves.  Ask the ladies in the store for lavender; they probably have a few bottles in the storeroom.

Happy New Year

..from me.
The cookies taste very good and received positive reviews from my ‘tasters’ at work, but the cut cookies did not hold their shape as well as I had hoped.  You can find recipe here.
The dough did come together as easily as the recipe stated.

1-2-3 essence from "Ratio" page 38

A cookbook with math formulas!  What more could an accountant / baker want?

I have to admit, the first time I baked the 1-2-3 Cookie Dough, I used white wheat flour, added orange oil, and threw in chopped Ghirardelli 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate.  I should have added more sugar!  The mixture was very crumbly.  Lesson learned:  ”If it’s crumbly going in, it will probably be crumbley coming out.”  The cookies were bad..just bad.  But, the fault was not that of Mr. Ruhlman’s ratio in his latest book, “Ratio The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.”  
For my second attempt with the ratio, I followed the directions (almost) exactly as the author suggested.  My only deviation was the addition of the seeds from one vanilla bean (don’t! throw that bean away; bury it in a jar of granulated sugar).  The dark, tiny flecks throughout the shortbread cookies added to their charm and simplicity, and taste.  I could have dressed the cookies with drizzles of chocolate, but I let them stand on their own.  They were delicious.  They were not crumbly.  They cut beautifully.  Like the author says, “…you can understand what a cookie is.”
I like to bake shortbread in my 14″ x 4″ tart pan.  It’s easy to remove the cookie, and its easy to cut even slices.

Add this percentage to your book, Mr. Ruhlman –  The cookies get a 100% rating!  I just need more room in the margin for notes!