As you might have realized by now, I like baking things for people. (This also seems to be a theme for others that I know like to bake.) This recipe is one of those times. I found out recently that a friend at work was leaving. She has always been a big fan of and taste tester for my baking. I wanted to make something nice as a goodbye treat for her.
Those of you who have been following this blog know that I like shortbread. Millionaire’s shortbread is my go to recipe when I need to make something. But I’ve been wanting to try other shortbread recipes to see how they work out. This one looked interesting, so I thought I would try it.
I microwaved the butter on low power for about 30 seconds to soften it up. The recipe called for 1 lb of butter. That’s a lot of butter, I thought, but that’s shortbread, right? It also called for icing sugar. Here in the US, we know it as powdered sugar. (Hello powdered sugar!) The recipe said it “gives the cookies a finer, creamier texture”. Also, it didn’t specify, but I’m assuming the recipe meant semi-sweet chocolate chips as that’s usually what’s in chocolate chip cookies. I used milk chocolate chips because I had them handy.
The shortbread dough was very easy to make. My new BFF the KitchenAid made short work of it all. (No pun intended.) I mixed it all up. The butter clumped up at first, but I put it at high-speed and it took care of it quickly. In the end, a few bits of flour/sugar/butter were sitting at the bottom of the bowl. I had to mix that it in manually to make sure it was all combined.
I wasn’t sure how to split it evenly into two. So I did it visually. I cut a line down the middle of the bowl with a spoon. I scooped out each half into a piece of plastic wrap. Then I smooshed the dough together with my hands (yes, “smooshed” is an industry term) and wrapped them each up and put them in the fridge for 45 minutes as suggested.
The next step was not as easy. I had a dickens of a time with it. I took each piece of dough out of the fridge and put it on parchment paper on a baking sheet, but that was impossible to roll. Either it was too hard (at the beginning) and wouldn’t really flatten or by the time it was soft enough to flatten, it was too soft and started sticking to the rolling pin. I didn’t want to add flour because I didn’t want to mess with the consistency. I could have greased the underside of the parchment paper to make it stick and stop sliding around, but I needed more room anyway.
The recipe had suggested putting wax paper on top and rolling out the dough underneath at the end to make it smooth. I used some (freezer paper actually, as that’s what I had) all the way through. That seemed to help. It still cracked a little, and it wasn’t exactly square in either case, but it was pretty good. I didn’t measure the thickness, but it seemed right.
(FYI: I used parchment paper on the bottom of one and a parchment baking sheet on the other as I had about run out of parchment paper. The parchment baking sheet is parchment paper pre-cut and it worked out well.)
One other issue that came up was that rolling them not in the baking sheet meant the size wasn’t contained. The bigger baking sheet was fine, but the smaller one I used was too small once the dough was rolled out. I had to swap the dough between the sheets and then in the smaller one I had to rotate it to fit. I then had to cut the parchment paper so it wouldn’t hang over the sides.
I cooked them for half time (12 1/2 minutes). Then I rotated them front to back and top to bottom. The recipe didn’t mention it, but a lot of other cookie recipes have mentioned that, so I thought it made sense here, too.
After 25 minutes I took them out. The edges were a little thin and had maybe over baked. On the sheet where I had to turn it around and cut it off, it dribbled over the edge a little bit. I cut them and pricked them with a fork. This was okay, but not without a little difficulty. The chocolate chips got in the way of cutting many times and the shortbread was so delicate that it ripped away chunks while cutting.
Here’s the conundrum though: when to cut them and when to take them out of the pan. The recipe didn’t specify, so I did some research. Many recipes said to wait a bit, at least 10 minutes or so before taking them out of the pan. That way they crisp up a bit. However they also said to cut them pretty quickly before they get too flaky and difficult to cut. So I cut them while they were still in the pan but I didn’t want to use too sharp of a knife cause I didn’t want to mess up the pan.
They were very delicate. I decided to wait to see what they ended up like after they crisped up. I tasted a tiny bit off the edge and it tasted right.
They turned out to be a big mess. I waited for a while for them to toughen up but they didn’t. Eventually I tried removing them and they crumbled like nobody’s business. (Unless your business is demolition.) Crumble, crumble, crumble. I was able to salvage some pieces, but basically they all fell apart when I moved them.
So this begs the question: what happened? Assuming the original recipe is okay, and I have to assume that, cause they turned out fine for the recipe author, what did I do wrong? There are a lot of possibilities mostly of the too much or too little variety. My guess is that I rolled them out too thin. I brought in what I could salvage, with the hope that my friend would still like them.
Now don’t get me wrong, everyone who tasted the shortbread enjoyed it, including the friend it was intended for. It was yummy. Nice and rich and buttery. It reminded me a little bit of Walkers. Walkers shortbread was the first shortbread I ever had, which was while I was visiting the UK a long time ago. I’m not saying I made shortbread that was as good, just that it was rich and buttery like Walkers, more so than other shortbread I’ve made.
Does anybody have any thoughts on what went wrong? I’d love to hear any shortbread advice you may have. Also, and equally important, do you have recipes that require shortbread cookie crumbs? Seriously, I have a lot so I’ll need to figure out something. Thanks!
Recipe courtesy of Pot of Roses.