Posted March 11, 2014 04:28 pm - Updated March 12, 2014 03:42 pm
If you’re looking for a dessert to serve on St. Patrick’s Day, a day that honors the patron saint of Ireland who was born in Scotland, shortbread would a good choice. Although shortbread is most often thought of as a food originating in Scotland, shortbread has actually been a baking staple over the whole of the British Isles for centuries, including Ireland. Early versions started out as dry, hard rusk-like “biscuits” that evolved, over time, into luxurious, butter-rich treats once reserved for only celebratory occasions. The “short” in the word “shortbread” refers to the high amount of butter-to-flour there is in the dough – a clue that the finished product will be rich, crumbly and tender. Shortbread, the pinnacle of “short” dough pastries is divine in its simplicity and, as any shortbread fan will tell you – all about the butter. Since shortbread contains minimal ingredients, you’ll want to use the best of the best, including premium butter, such as Kerrygold’s Pure Irish Butter. Kerrygold’s recipe for “Butter Shortbread Petticoat Tails” is spectacular, as is the color of Kerrygold’s all–natural golden-hued Pure Irish Butter, a result of the beta carotene-rich grass-fed cow’s milk it contains. You will want to bake shortbread at a low temperature to be sure it doesn’t overbrown. It should look almost white to a light golden brown after baking, whether baked as a stamped cookie, in a square pan or fashioned into petticoat tails. If you don’t eat (or gift) all your shortbread, it will keep in an airtight container, for up to one week.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good Cookie Stamp Shortbread
(For use with a 3-inch Brown Bag Design Cookie Stamp)
2/3 cup King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into measuring cup, then level with the flat end of a knife)
½ cup premium salted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar (dip measuring cup into sugar, then level with the flat end of a knife)
1/3 cup cornstarch (dip measuring cup into cornstarch, then level with the flat end of a knife)
With an electric mixer set to medium speed, cream the butter in large bowl until fluffy. Turn mixer off and sift confectioners’ sugar over butter. With speed set to low, mix sugar with butter until it is well blended. Add flour, then continue to beat just until all the flour is incorporated into the creamed mixture. Roll unchilled dough into a 1½- to 1¾-inch ball, dust each ball lightly with flour and place 4 inches apart on an ungreased, parchment lined baking sheet. Stamp each ball with your cookie stamp, being careful to press down evenly. (Do not use excess force when pressing stamp. Stop pressing when you start a feel a little resistance coming back from the stamp.)
Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until cookies just begin to turn a golden brown around the edges. Remove pan from oven and allow cookies to set for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Paint cookies, as desired, then store between sheets of wax paper for up to 1 week. Makes 8 (2½-inch) molded cookies.
To make cookie paint
Place a few drop of gel food coloring into a small dish or painter’s palette. Add enough clear vanilla imitation extract to make “paint,” stirring with your paintbrush until desired consistency and color are reached. You can also use food-grade airbrush colors, as well as powdered “luster dust” (available at craft stores or on-line sources specializing in cake decorating supplies) for making cookie paint.
Butter Shortbread Petticoat Tails
1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt*
½ cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of shortbread*
1 cup (8 ounces) cold Kerrygold Unsalted Butter, cut into ¾-inch pieces
*(If you use salted butter, cut the amount of salt in the recipe to 1/8 teaspoon.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Have ready a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt into the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar and mix on low speed just to blend the ingredients, 15 seconds. With the mixer running, add the butter pieces and continue mixing until crumbs form and there is no loose flour, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, mixing until large clumps form that pull away from the side of the bowl, about 15 seconds.
Transfer the dough to the tart pan. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough evenly into the pan. Use a thin metal spatula to smooth the top.* The dough will be ½-inch thick. Use a fork to prick the dough at 2-inch intervals. Use a small sharp knife to mark 12 even wedge-shaped cookies. Bake the cookies until the top is light golden, about 1 hour. Immediately use a small sharp knife to cut completely through the marked wedges. Cool the shortbread thoroughly in the pan.* Remove the sides of the pan and separate the cookies. The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container for up to 1 week. *Kitchen Ade note: It is easier to press the shortbread dough evenly into the pan if you first cover the dough with a piece of plastic wrap. If you use the plastic wrap, you will not have to smooth the top with a spatula. In addition, sprinkling the top of your shortbread with granulated sugar, white or colored, is a nice touch. Do it while the shortbread is still warm. Makes 12 large cookies.
Good Pan Shortbread
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1½ cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour (spoon flour into measuring cup, then level with the flat end of a knife)
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar (dip measuring cup into sugar, then level with the flat end of a knife)
½ cup cornstarch (dip measuring cup into cornstarch, then level with the flat end of a knife)
Granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of shortbread
Combine the flour with the cornstarch and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer set to medium speed. Lowering the speed of the mixer, add the flour/cornstarch mixture, mixing until a dough is formed. Press the dough evenly into a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan, then prick all over with a fork. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes in a preheated 300-degree oven until top is a light golden brown. While shortbread is still warm, sprinkle with granulated sugar. Cool slightly, then cut into 12 to 16 pieces.
Kitchen Ade note: always cut your shortbread while it is warm. If you attempt to cut your shortbread after it is cooled, it will crumble.
Acknowledgement: for the purpose of this recipe, King Arthur Flour’s heavy-duty 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan was used. Made exclusively for King Arthur Flour, by USA Pans, the pan is coated with Americoat, a clear, non-stick, non-toxic, environmentally friendly coating that is specially formulated for superior baking. The unique corrugated surface provides air circulation all around, for better browning, more even baking, and perfect release. The pan also carries a lifetime warranty. For information, visit www.kingarthurflour.com or call 1-800-827-6836.