Sunday, October 16, 2011

Anxiety-quelling shortbread

Homework is nowhere near being done, the house is a mess, dishes are piling up, I can feel a cold coming on, and there's a deadline looming when I go back to work tomorrow. The anxiety is on red alert! And until a short while ago, there was nary a sweet to be had! Luckily, there was butter, sugar and flour in the kitchen, and that's pretty much all you need to make some anxiety-quelling shortbread. 

Maybe this is a confessional kind of a post: I shirked duty and made cookies. But even though that sounds like a slacker thing to do, I've got to say, I feel fortified to get back to work now. A recipe that calls for two sticks of butter can go a long way towards calming the craziness. Will now forge ahead. Onward! 

Yay! Shortbread. 

1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 sticks of cold butter, cut into small cubes

1. Line a 9-inch cake pan and a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Turn the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
3. Using a pastry knife, cut the butter into the sugar. Once it's blended as far as it will go, rub the small butter bits into the flour mix by hand.
4. Once the dough starts to hold together, dump all the dough bits into the lined cake pan and tamp it down to form a circle.
5. Turn it over onto the cookie sheet. Slap that puppy into the oven, turn the head down to 300 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.
6. Remove the shortbread and cut it into as many wedges as you like — about 16-20 or so. The dough will sort of ooze back together a little bit — that's OK; the cut marks will just score the dough so it's easier to cut later. In order to make sure it cooks through, use a biscuit cutter to cut a circle out of the middle.
7. At this point, you can pierce a little pattern on each shortbread cookie with a chopstick or skewer if you like. Then, leaving the biscuit cutter in the middle of the dough, put the shortbread back in the oven for 40 minutes.
8. Remove the shortbread and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Then cut along the score marks and let cool fully for an hour or two. While you're waiting, eat the center piece. It's the best part.

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