There are times in life when you have big news, but you just don't know exactly how to present it. At some point, I decided that the natural choice for our recent news was via cookie — shortbread to be exact.
And the news? My husband and I are expecting a baby girl August 1st! She'll be our first child, and we have the usual mix of emotions — mostly joy, excitement, and fascination. And maybe a dash of oh-my-god-but-will-she-come-with-instructions??-iness. Just a pinch. :)
I was finally able to try out a great birthday gift that I got last year — cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma that give you the option to stamp messages into the dough (thanks Eve and George!). The cookie cutter was just large enough to fit the headline of our news story. How convenient!
This shortbread recipe is from Ina Garten and is very simple. Like count-the-number-of-ingredients-on-one-hand simple. But the cookies were delicious and I was quite happy with the final product. I might also note that this dough is great for a pregnant baker since there are no eggs in it. Not that I would ever enjoy cookie dough prior to baking. Not me!
Ina coats the ends of her shortbread with a little chocolate. I think this is a great option to jazz up simple cookies, however it wouldn't exactly work for the message-in-a-cookie thing that I was going for. Not to mention that they really didn't need it. Totally up to your personal preference!
Shortbread Cookies (makes about 20 cookies, depending on size)
Recipe taken from Barefoot Contessa
3/4 lb. unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar just until they are combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump dough onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough to 1/2 inch thick, and cut with the cookie cutter of your choice (mine was about 1.5" x 3"). Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Optional Step (if you want to add a little chocolate to the shortbread): When the cookies are cooled, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 oz. of finely-chopped, high-quality semisweet chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add an additional 3 oz. of finely-chopped, high-quality chocolate and allow to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely melted and smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and cooled slightly (stirring makes it glossier). Drizzle half of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it and let harden before serving.
Click here for a printable recipe!