CLASSIC VANILLA & MOCHA-CHOCOLATE
Its February already. The winter chill hasn’t receded yet, but there are a few warm days in between, the New Year is new no more and resolutions are long forgotten (Hurrah!!). Don’t get me wrong, but I find that festivities are such a hype and strain at times. They take me away from my routines, which get me crabby, they make demands on my time and me being the “old-habits-die-hard” kinda person, I want to make, bake and have fun. I can’t wait to get January out of my way and get started on routine baking. But Feb won’t leave me alone either. Look at the list of demands, cookies for school, cake for anniversary, missed Daring Bakers’ Challenges to make up and I am at it again.
Valentines Day and my wedding anniversary following on each others tail, I usually try to combine the dessert or cake and roll it into one big celebration week. I must confess that I am not a pink, teddy, red hearts and long-stemmed roses person and I rather have a wholesome tea cake any day than a box of chocolates, but on this occasion I make an exception to my un-girly rules and roll out atleast a few heart shaped goodies. A beautifully rich dense cake- Le Diabola is baked and ready to be decorated (once I decide on the frosting) I hope I don’t end up serving it with lashings of cream or vanilla ice-cream. I have promised the boys to make it look pretty (They care a hoot about prettiness, to them the taste matters….LOL!!)
So to kick off the romance I baked a batch of my Valentine’s favourite Shortbread cookies. The recipe is Martha Stewarts’ and its absolutely gorgeous. I halved the batch and added coffee and chocolate chunks to one half and vanilla extract to the other. On hindsight I should have added a little more sugar to the coffee batch to cancel out the bitterness. These are super buttery and melt in the mouth with a crispy outside and a disintegrating inside. They look rustic and I felt no need to coat them with chocolate or fancy them up. They are so, so, so easy to make that its unreal.
I hope you try them dear reader, I can assure you they are the easiest way to “butter-up” your Valentine and if he cares more for the taste than the look, then you are one lucky gal.
SHORTBREAD COOKIES (adapted from Martha Stewart)
(Classic Vanilla and Coffee- Chocolate)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon salt
240 grams Butter (unsalted)
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract/ 1 tsp. Instant Coffee & 40 grams dark chocolate chunks
- Cream the butter until light and add in the sugar ¼ cup at a time. Beat until light and fluffy, scrapping the bowl with a spatula.
- Add in the flavouring of your choice at this stage. (coffee or Vanilla )
- Sift the flour and salt and add to the butter mixture. Fold in until just combined and the dough comes together. If you want to add the chocolate do it now and gently incorporate it into the dough. Do not over-handle the dough.
- Pat the dough into a 9”x 12” tray lined with parchment paper. Even it out with a palette knife and fork it all over. Refrigerate for an hour.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 155o C for 40-45 minutes until the edges are golden brown and there is a slight brown colouring on the top as well.
- Remove from the oven and with a sharp knife cut them into rectangles of desired size in the tin itself. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin. Remove and continue cooling on the wire rack.
- If you want to make shaped cookies- once the dough is ready, empty it onto a clingwrap, cover, flatten into a disk and refrigerate for an hour. Remove from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 3 mm thickness. Cut into shapes and place on a well oiled or lined cookie sheet and bake at 155o C for 30 minutes or until light golden. Cool on a wire rack.