How much butter is in 3 dozen cookies? Honestly I don’t want to know, I’m just glad after devouring Cranberry Apricot Biscotti, Brown Butter Butterscotch Chip Cookies, and Black Sesame Shortbread that I didn’t gain any weight! *phew* Especially when two boxes arrived with the warning “Contains lots of butter!”
I’m a cookie lover. I would rather have a warm gooey chocolate chip cookie then a chocolate cake or a piece of pumpkin pie or a cupcake .. or a brownie … well you get the point. So when Love & Olive Oil and The Tiny Kitchen announced The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap I lept at the chance to participate.
The more I age the more a nut allergy is unfolding and I just want to say thanks to the creators for allowing us to put an allergy warning for our matches to know. K has a peanut allergy and I cannot have pecans/walnuts so when it comes to desserts both of us are usually salivating with a sweet tooth as everyone digs into some delicious treats. It was a relief to know I could eat cookies without any worry. It also felt like Christmas everyday for three days. I got lucky and each cookie package arrived on a different day. Making the anticpation of coming home and opening a small box well worth it.
What to make was pretty simple for me. I come from a line of scottish shortbread bakers on my paternal scottish side and as much as I would love to share the recipe with you (I would give it up for a cookbook ) I decided to create a different recipe one that included tea and some nutritional whole wheat. Pretend it balances the load of butter in these cookies. These cookies aren’t too overpowering, but once finished the heat of the chai spices definitely hits you in the back of the mouth. I found these were perfect to ship, due to how shortbread matures with age, just like a good fine wine and if some broke I wasn’t told.
I have to say writing the recipe was hard, how to explain a cookie that has taken me years to master? Maybe I should do skype video demonstrations “How to make Shortbread the Proper Way”, but if you have any questions feel free to ask and remember Cans for Comments is still going!
Shortbread is a labour of love. It’s not about placing all the ingredients in a mixer, rolling, cutting and baking. It’s about getting your hands a little messy and putting a little elbow grease into a labour of love. Somehow we’ve lost that love with our appliances that make cooking and baking easier, but shortbread, real good shortbread, brings us back and reminds us how nice it is to sit, stir and knead.
What surprised me the most about the cookie swap were the connections I made. I had never met these three intelligent and wonderful people in real life, nor did I knew their blog and name before this challenge. I even had a match that was located an hour away from me! Yet there is somehow a deeper connection to these three then I have with bloggers I communicate on a regular basis. A laugh, a joke, a whisper of a secret, and the yearning to help as much as I can has occurred. I smile when I see them tweet and I respond quicker then I normally would. How amazing that sharing food no matter the distance between can create such a bond. The Food Blogger Cookie Swap, isn’t about testing recipes, receiving more cookies that you wish you didn’t know what to do with, or even being apart of something bigger. It’s about making those deep connections, those amazing friendships in a way that only food can. Thank you Melissa, Nicola, and Kyleen.
Brown Butter Chai Shortbread
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, browned and cooled
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened and cubed
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- 3 tea bags, chai flavoured
- Cube the first ¾ cup of unsalted butter and place in a saucepan on medium heat to brown. Let it melt and keep stirring, scraping along the bottom. Be careful you may get tired of watching the butter brown (I know I did!) and turn away, but then when you come back you’ll have found your butter to far gone. You’re looking for a nice dark caramel colour, once reached strain into a bowl through cheesecloth or small wire strainer to get rid of the chunks you do not want. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Cream the rest of your ¾ cup of butter with your sugar in a large mixing bowl, then cream the cooled browned butter. Add your all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and the contents of your tea bags (discard the tea bag itself after dumping the tea into the bowl). This is where it’s handy to have everything set or a kitchen helper because your going to get your hands messy. With your hands mix all the ingredients with your hands so everything looks like the size of peas. It will be a motion close to rubbing your fingers against your thumb.
- Once the size of peas dump onto a counter. This is where the kneading begins. It may not look like it will stick, but it will come together. Having good wrist muscles and putting some power behind the kneading is key. Grab some dough and press with the heel of your hand and push the dough into the pile. You will need to flip/turn and grab hunks of dough to keep doing this until it comes a bit together. The the real folding and kneading action will occur. Fluffy shortbread is about getting the most air into the dough, so fold the dough on top one another. Most people stop kneading shortbread when the dough turns into a ball, but you need to keep going. You want the dough to have a very smooth surface and if you drop the ball slightly on the counter you can almost see and hear the dough do a bit of a sigh and you should be able to make indents with your fingers very easily.
- Roll out the dough to whatever thickness you wish. The thinner you roll the dough, the crunchier the shortbread will be with a bit of a flaky interior. I prefer mine thicker (note – sometimes I got carried away and did them to thin rolling is relaxing for me!) because then it has more of a soft texture once bitten into. Cut them into any square or circluar shape you want. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden on the bottom. You do not want to overbake shortbread, it will dry out.
- Place on a cookie rack and cool. Keep in an airtight container. You can eat them the day they are baked, but they taste better when matured at least overnight.
- Makes slightly over 3 dozen cookies.