I'm back! I sincerely hope your 2018 is off to a better start than mine. Our past two weekends have had some exciting moments to say the least.
Most of you have probably heard about Hawaii's missile scare on Saturday. Nothing like waking up to a text from Hawaii's Civil Defense telling you that North Korea has launched nukes at your little set of islands in the middle of the Pacific. For 38 tense minutes we didn't know whether we were going to live or die. That's right, it took 38 minutes for them to confirm that someone hit the wrong message button. Now, on the bright side we all have a much better idea of what to do should such a catastrophe ever truly occur. Furthermore, that time when my husband and I were still dating and he tried to break up with me via text no longer holds the top spot as my most memorable text message.
The week prior I had taken off from blogging to nurse my shoulder following an injury, and now I am learning to be ambidextrous, which I have heard also helps make you smarter. (Let's hope so.) I was hiking on the beautiful West side of Maui with my daughter and some friends when I lost my balance. Now, I still haven't decided if this next part illustrates how klutzy I am or how old I'm getting. Either way, I did not actually fall. I merely whipped my right arm into the air (because I was cradling my camera in my left arm) to maintain my balance and felt something go SNAP. It only hurt for a moment, but the next morning I was in agony and couldn't move it.
Apparently I tore my rotator cuff. Yay, me. And let me point out that I have been previously hurt on this same trail, though it was many years ago. So clearly this particular slice of paradise has it out for me. But just look how beautiful it is, and I'm sure you'll understand why I risked life and limb to do it again. In the meanwhile, I'm wearing my very fashionable sling everywhere and enjoying having the Hubby help me with the cooking and cleaning.
Now for the real reason you're all here: Shortbread. I'm clearly a cookie snob. I believe the perfect shortbread should be buttery, mildly sweet, crumbly, and should melt on your tongue. I love shortbread because it is such a versatile cookie, and there are many variations out there. I came up with this version after deciding that continuing to eat the Biscoff Cookie Butter straight from the jar was starting to set a bad example for the rest of the family. (Also, I was having trouble holding the jar and navigating the spoon to my mouth with my bad arm.) You can use any flavor cookie butter you prefer, or even make your own. I prefer the slightly toasted, molasses flavor of the Biscoff to the Trader Joe's brand, but to each their own.
I find there are two very important factors to a delicious shortbread. First, use a high quality butter. I love Kerrygold Irish Butter. Its so unbelievably creamy, and has an amazing long, lingering finish that you typically only find in freshly churned butter. Also, when it comes to the dough, chill, chill, and chill some more. You do not want your shortbread to spread too much. Normally I'm a big fan of quick, no-chill cookie doughs, but I will always make an exception for a delicious shortbread cookie. This recipe is definitely one to prep a day ahead and refrigerate overnight. Even after chilling the dough, I still find that I get better results if I roll the dough into balls and refrigerate again for about 15 minutes before making an indentation in them. Also, I like to use the back of a measuring spoon to press into the cookies (the teaspoon is the perfect size for a tablespoon sized cookie) It goes so much faster and is much more uniform in appearance than when I try to jam my fat little fingers into each cookie.
The only tricky part is deciding what filling to use in your cookies. I made a double batch of this dough. For Batch One, I filled each cookie with about a half teaspoon of fruit preserves- apricot, raspberry, and strawberry-guava. If you're using jam, jelly, or preserves you'll want to fill each cookie prior to baking. Spoon enough into the indentations so that it is slightly mounded above the cookie, being careful not to overfill. It'll flatten out as they bake. Bake as directed, and let cool on baking sheet for about 15 minutes before moving them to racks to cool completely. Do Not overtake, unless you like your shortbread crunchy. Once cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with icing if you like.
For Batch Two, I made the indentations and baked without filling. When baking the shortbread with no filling the indentations did puff up and close over a bit, so I just mashed the measuring spoon into the cookies again when they came out of the oven before allowing them to cool. Then I filled them with some caramel sauce made from a bag of Kraft Caramels I had in the pantry and drizzled some melted chocolate over the top. Voila- homemade Twix Cookies!
You can also roll the chilled dough out and cut them into shapes with assorted cookie cutters, finishing them off with caramel, melted chocolate, even candy melts and sprinkles.
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