Monday, November 7, 2011

Ship Shape Shortbread

Baked butter love.
There are a lot of reasons why shortbread cookies are my favorite cookies.  First and foremost, there is nothing butterier, at least not in baked form.  They're light, but also rich.  They're versatile.  They only require five ingredients.  And if you're looking to share some cookie love, they ship really really well.

This week, I was called upon to box up a batch for a special birthday boy (okay, man, but I love alliteration almost as much as I love shortbread).  I was more than happy to oblige.  Variation requested:  pecan.  Oh, yeah.  The recipe at  Flawless.

Pecan Shortbread

3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups small diced pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter/sugar mixture. Add the pecans and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut into 2 1/2-inch squares with a plain or fluted cutter (or cut into any shape you like). Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve. 

Literate Baker notes:  I roll the dough closer to 1/4-inch thick.  The bake time is 15-20 minutes.  I also never seem to have sufficient patience to chill the dough; this seems to be okay.

Shipping tips:  Shortbread is both sturdy and slow to stale, so it really is the ultimate cookie for shipping.  I like to put stacks in little cellophane bags, then seal those in zip-top baggies.

Surround with bubble wrap or packing peanuts.  You don't want to crush them, but the packing should be tight enough that there is no movement when you shake the box.

Oh, and be sure to tuck a little note inside.  My phrase of choice (courtesy of my ever-witty Aunt Claire):  Confectionately yours.

Send a little sweetness to someone in your life.  I promise they'll feel beyond special.  Besides, there are always the "irregulars" to be kept and devoured, er, enjoyed in moderation, by the baker.  Sharing, it's the karmicly awesome way to...

Keep it sweet.

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