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I apologize for the title, but allow me to explain. I’m not a huge shortbread fan by nature. I usually find it too dry, the texture is off, or its fairly tasteless. On occasion, I may or may not have a tendency to get a wee bit obsessed with baking a specific thing. So I end up making the same thing over & over, subtly changing it each time.  The end result is that we end up eating *a lot* of whatever it is that I am not, in my mind, getting quite right. So was the case with shortbread.

Bacon Slayer is my favorite taste tester because he will listen to me break down my thoughts about the goings on of the recipe, the changes I’ve made, what version he is eating now–you get the idea. And most of the time, his has the wherewithal to keep his eyes from glazing over, and he continues to look engaged, smile and nod. Well, after shortbread attempt number 16, I think he was afraid to come home at night for fear of eating still more shortbread. Then one day, I presented him with these:

of which he dutifully took a bite.  He’s good like that. Then he took another bite. And another. Pretty soon, both cookies were gone. I’m standing there holding an empty plate. Waiting.

“Well?!”

“That shortbread takes all the other shortbread, and kicks the s*** out of it!”

Thus the name. And yes, he was an English major.

To make your own Sh**t-Kickin’ Shortbread, you will need:

1 1/2 cups of butter, softened (3 sticks of the real deal. I know.It’s a lot of butter, but it’s shortbread!)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract–the good stuff

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt (unless you’re using salted butter, then skip the extra salt)

melted chocolate chips for drizzling, optional

Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and combine it on medium low speed, until it looks creamy, and has lightened a bit in color.

Then add the vanilla extract. This is a pretty simple cookie, so I highly recommend using good, real vanilla, and not the imitation stuff. You’ll be glad you did. Give the mixer a quick whirl to incorporate the vanilla.

Please stand by for a Public Service Announcement regarding the measurement of flour…….beeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

You have to be fairly careful when measuring flour for baking. Too much, and your recipe turns out dry. Too little, and it’s too wet. Flour is fickle. That being said, I don’t think that you have to weigh your flour (for 99% of baking) like the chefs tell you to.  Instead, give your flour a little “fluff” by stirring it around in the container.

When it looks like it’s loosened up a bit, then lightly scoop it in a measuring cup. Then take a butter knife, and level it off. Repeat as needed.

It’s kind of therapeutic.

This was a Public Service Announcement regarding the measurement of flour. We now continue with your regularly scheduled recipe.

Thanks for hanging in there. We have creamed the butter & sugar together, and added the vanilla.  Measure out the flour and dump it into a separate bowl, and since I am using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to it and stir it together.

After all that flour talk, I thought I’d show you how I measure a 1/4 teaspoon of anything…

Very precise, I know. I’m a complicated woman sometimes.

Now add the flour in a couple of batches and stir it until the dough starts coming together. I may or may not have tried to add it all at once before, because I was in a hurry. I may or may not have had to clean a fine layer of flour dust off of every surface in the kitchen after that. For like 3 days.

Now it doesn’t look much like the dough has come together at all, but this is what you are going for. Dump it on to a large piece of plastic wrap.

Then fold the plastic wrap over the crumblies, and push them together. The heat of your hands will soften the butter a bit, and it will eventually come together. Try to get it as close to rectangular as possible. Pop it in to the fridge for 20 minutes or so.

If you’re like me, you’ll make a cup of tea and read the paper while you are waiting. I have oodles of free time.

Unwrap the chilled dough, and roll it out evenly on a floured surface until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Now you could just take a knife and cut 1 inch by 3 inch rectangles, or you could have a little fun with it, and use cookie cutters.

I had been searching all over for a motorcycle cookie cutter so that I could send Harley Shortbread to my friend Jamie, since he wasn’t able to ride his bike. I live in a small town, so our cookie cutter selection at the market is fairly spartan. No motorcycle. But they did have a cute–I mean manly–cowboy boot.

Put them on a lined baking sheet. Sprinkle some sugar on them if you like that sort of thing.  Bake them at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned.  Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The shortbread is perfectly delectable like this, but if you are like me and think that everything is better with a bit of chocolate, you’ll melt some chocolate chips in the microwave and dip one end of the cookies in the melted chocolate. If you are really like me, you’ll put the hot, melted chocolate into a zippered sandwich bag, and clip a small corner off the bottom. Then you’ll proceed to burn any identifiable markings off of your hands by trying to squeeze a cute little chocolate design on the cookies.

Oodles of free time, remember?

Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from an Ina Garten recipe

1 ½ C. unsalted butter (3 sticks)

1 C. granulated sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 1/4 C. all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional (or more!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and combine it on medium low speed, until it looks creamy, and has lightened a bit in color.
  3. Then add the vanilla extract, and stir to fully incorporate.
  4. Add stir salt into the flour. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2-3 batches, stirring in between. Stir until well combined, and dough starts to come together. The dough will be very crumbly.
  5. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on to a clean, flat surface. Dump the crumbly dough onto the plastic wrap.
  6. Fold the plastic wrap over the crumblies, and push them together. The heat of your hands will soften the butter a bit, and it will eventually come together as a mass of dough. Try to shape it to as close to a rectangle as possible. Pop it in to the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
  7. Unwrap the chilled dough, and roll it out evenly on a floured surface until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Now you could just take a knife and cut 1 inch by 3 inch rectangles, or you could have a little fun with it, and use cookie cutters.
  8. Put cut dough pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle some additional sugar on them, if you like.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned.
  9. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Optional:

  1. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl : about 1-2 minutes on half power. Stir rapidly until melted chocolate is completely smooth.
  2. Dip (or spoon) chocolate on one end of the shortbread, and set on a wire rack until chocolate is completely set (about 30 minutes.)

Makes about 24  1” x 3” rectangles, or 16-18  3” x 4” cutouts.

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