Sunday, February 4, 2007

Shortbread Hearts

It’s that time of the year again when we all search for those pretty cards, candied hearts, chocolate dipped strawberries, cute teddy bears and radiant red roses to celebrate love and friendship with our dear ones. Yes, Valentine’s Day is just two weeks away and I see lots of pink, red and white wherever I turn. This year, why don’t we Say It with Shortbread Hearts? Shortbreads, a Scottish favorite are “the ultimate expression of the four building blocks of baking: butter, sugar, flour and salt.” But modern cooks have come up with lots of variations by adding nuts, chocolates or any other dried fruits as well as cutting them differently. If it is yet to strike you, this is an EGGLESS recipe!! I found this recipe on Martha Stewart’s LIVING beautifully cut using heart shaped cookie cutters. So dear friends, let’s hit the baking corner and serve our Valentine’s with some extra love :)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour/maida
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries or cherries

  1. Preheat oven to 325° with the rack in center. With a hand mixer, combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, flour, and salt,(all at the same time) in a bowl, until it’s just incorporated; not too creamy. Stir in dried cranberries/cherries or fruit of your choice.
  2. Grease an 8 or 9 inch-square baking pan with butter and flour and pat dough firmly into the pan and bake until just beginning to turn golden. Though the original recipe calls for only 20 min, it took 50 min for me. Cool on a wire rack and unmold the Shortbread and transfer to a work surface. Do not cut if it's still warm and wait till it’s completely cool. Use a heart cookie cutter to cut out cookies and keep them at room temperature in an airtight container.

Tricks I learnt!
This was the first time I tried a Shortbread recipe and hence I did some reading before hitting the baking corner. Here are some tips: After transferring the dough into the baking pan, cover it with a plastic wrap, so it doesn’t stick to hands while pressing into a uniform thickness and before sliding the dough into the oven, prick all over with a wooden skewer. Experts do not suggest the use of forks, as its tines will pull at the dough. The holes keep the surface level and promote even baking. It’s also suggested not to substitute confectioner’s sugar with granulated sugar, to avoid grainy cookies. Please note that the original recipe calls for only 20 min baking time but it took 50 min for me. So it's better to keep in mind the variations of the oven settings. Bake until golden colour and firm in center.

You can either use cookie cutters or simply cut them into rounds or squares when it’s completely cool. I noticed that the flavour improves after a few days.

I think it's time for me to go for Monthly Mingle at Meeta's. :)

* This recipe is taken from Martha Stewart’s Living and for more information and recipes on Shortbreads, refer Martha Stewart LIVING, February 2007,Pg: 82.

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