October 22, 2011

Shortbread Two Ways

It's ironic that I love to bake because diabetes tends to run in my extended family, especially the maternal branch.  Whenever I make them something inevitably the first comment I get is, "Can you make it less sweet?"  I too am a fan of less sweet desserts, so I'm not one to talk, but you've got to have some sugar otherwise what's the point?

I'm visiting the relatives this weekend so my Mom suggested I bring them a homemade treat.   The main criteria being that whatever it is be low on the sugar content..big surprise!   

The first thing that came to mind was shortbread.  They're more buttery than sweet and are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.   I decided to mix things up a bit so in addition to the classic version I tried Dorie Greenspan's espresso-chocolate shortbread.  If you're a caffeine addict you'll go crazy for them!

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread (from Dorie Greenspan)

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days. 

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

Classic Shortbread

Same ingredients as the Espresso-Chocolate Chip Shortbread but omit the espresso powder, boiling water and chocolate.


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