Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Eleven: Stars Desserts

by Emily Luchetti

     Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

I just love Emily Luchetti! Her desserts are always so easy, beautiful, and delicious. I have four out of five (well six...soon to be published if not already) of her cookbooks. The only reason I do not have the fifth one is, that it is my understanding that it is a compilation of a couple of her other books. Though I am tempted, just to make the library complete!
Not only is shortbread absolutely wonderful, (who doesn't like shortbread?!) but it is something you can always make at the last minute for we all have butter, sugar, flour and salt on hand. Place one cookie in a bowl of ice cream with or without a little chocolate sauce and viola, dessert!
I really must pay more attention to what I am doing, or maybe I should not be cooking dinner, sipping wine, baking and taking photos all at the same time. I dumped the bowl of sugar into the mixer along with the butter, forgetting that I had not measured the sugar yet.  I had just thrown some sugar into a bowl for the photo. My recipe called for only ½ cup sugar and the bowl holds about 1¼ cups! I did not realize this until it was whirling away in the mixer.  So now in my freezer, I have a bag of creamed butter and sugar waiting to be turned into something delightful; maybe chocolate chip cookies. I also failed to read the part where you are supposed to freeze or refrigerate the cookies for one hour prior to baking. However this did not seem to make a difference. The cookies turned out wonderful!!
To make them a bit more special for Valentine’s Day I sandwiched these with a dollop of Nutella.
Success meter (1-3): 3

Shortbread Cookies
Yield: 2 dozen (1 dozen if making sandwich cookies)
8 oz (2 sticks) cold sweet butter
½ cup sugar
2 cups flour
Pinch salt
Preheat oven to 250°
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the flour and salt and continue mixing on low speed for 3-5 minutes, until the dough comes together. It will look dry just before it comes together.
Put the dough on a lightly floured board and roll it out ¼ inch thick. With a 3-inch star cutter or other desired shape, cut out the cookies. Chill them for 1 hour in the freezer or refrigerator.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cookies, so they are not touching, on the pan. Bake the shortbread for about 45 minutes, until firm. They should remain white in color.

Hazelnut Shortbread:
Add ½ cup finely ground toasted and skinned hazelnuts to the master shortbread recipe
Espresso Shortbread:
Use the master recipe but decrease the flour by ¼ cup and add ¼ cup of espresso grounds.
Orange Shortbread:
Add 3 tablespoons chopped orange zest to the master shortbread recipe.
Cinnamon Shortbread:
Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the master recipe.

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