Monday, February 4, 2008

Whipped Is Wicked Good

My whole day yesterday was not spent involved in Super Bowl activities. No. What? You think I'm obsessed with football or something? I'm not, you know. I prefer to think of it as an annual aberrational syndrome with intense entertainment features. But I can survive the rest of the year without it. Coffee and chocolate make up for a great deal.

By the way, I want you to know -- I picked the Giants to win. Not only do I tend to support the Underdogs in any given situation, I don't think you'll find too many Raiders fans who like the Pats ever since that fateful January 2002 playoff game in the snow, when the infamous Tuck rule cost us dearly. It's about time the semi-perfect Pats were humbled. In a more just world, my Raiders would have done the job but, hey -- I'm happy that it was one of the Manning boys and Company, who handled it.

What was I doing that had nothing to do with football? Well, baking cookies, if you must know. Before you throw something at me, I wish to point the finger at a certain Old Grey Poet across the Big Pond. It's John's fault entirely for mentioning how much he and Graham enjoyed lemon curd on shortcrust tarts. Shortcrust. That translates to shortbread, doesn't it, John? In any case, that's how I took it.

Since shortbread happens to rate rather high on my list of Foods I Adore, I Googled a bit through a range of recipes for shortbread tarts. For one reason or another, I rejected everything I ran across -- until I hit mention of Whipped Shortbread Cookies.

Huh? Never heard of them. But what caught my interest was the person who mentioned them said she liked to do the thumbprint treatment and fill the depression with different jams or jellies. And I thought, "Aha! Lemon curd time!"

When I located the recipe, I was even more enthused. Very simple and requiring few ingredients. Although I will say a stand mixer makes it a lot easier because the best results apparently result from lots of mixing. That's not engraved in stone, you understand. One commenter was hand-mixing the ingredients. Said she was exhausted after about 4 minutes but the cookies still came out fine.

So, okay, to get what you see in the above photo, you do thusly: in your mixer bowl, put 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter. Turn the mixer to somewhere in the midrange and let it whup that butter to a fluffy froth for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, measure out 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. When the butter is pale and fluffy, add all the dry ingredients. You can also add 1 teaspoon of whatever flavoring you wish. I used vanilla. Begin blending the dry ingredients into the butter. Stop and scrape sides of bowl as often as necessary but let the mixer work the contents for another 10 minutes. Really.

When you're done, the batter will be the consistency of very thick whipped cream. Using a couple of teaspoons, scoop up little globs of batter and drop them on your cookie sheet. This is what I learned: A rounded teaspoon of dough gives you very nice small cookies. A round tablespoon of dough will make cookies that are twice as big -- and twice as fragile, especially if you put any kind of filling in them. What you see above is the large portion of raw dough, complete with a generous blob of lemon curd. I was getting impatient an opted for the larger cookies so I'd get done sooner. Bad move. What you see below is the result.

Not only do the larger cookies run into each other, they are too fragile to hold up against that center weight of filling so it's hard to pick one up without having it crumble into several pieces. Trust me when I tell you, it's worth it to be patient and make the smaller cookies, okay?

I did the thumbprint part by dipping the point of the teaspoon in at an angle and then rotating it a bit. Works fine but be sure you don't go too deep or you'll mess with the structural integrity of your cookies even more. Who knew you had to be an architect to build cookies?

Okay, bake these little fellers in a 350 degree fairyheight oven. Small ones are done in 10 minutes. The bigger ones took 15. When you pull the pan out of the oven, let the cookies rest right where they are for a good 10 minutes. Give them a chance to firm up a bit before transferring them to a rack. In fact, I didn't even use a rack. Instead, I laid out a sheet of waxed paper and transferred the still-warm cookies to it. That's the way we used to do cookies before cooling racks became the In thing.

Now, pick up one of those cookies and take a bite. Prepare to be amazed. It's like chewing a mouthful of foam. The instant the cookie touches your quivering taste buds, it's already dissolving in a warm burst of buttery flavor. Then the filling comes along like a complimentary kiss of bliss. Before you quite know what's happened, both your hand and your mouth are empty and you are wondering if you imagined the whole thing. You take another cookie to convince yourself the experience was genuine because it's hard to believe in the reality of a cookie that seems less substantial than a dream of a cookie.

Are these cookies healthy for our bodies? Of course not! They are way too decadent to be healthy. On the other hand, they are nirvana for our Inner Sybarite. What can I say? We have to either develop monumental self-control or quickly share the whole batch (I got 3 dozen.) with as many other people as possible. Fortunately for me, as much as I love rich foods, my system can only ever manage a little bit at a time. My taste buds will be clamoring for an encore but my tummy says, "Take one more bite and I will make you frow up, fool!"

I can bend to that. These shortbread cookies are wicked good but they aren't the only thing around here that's whipped.


Wendy said...

Dee, my friend, my trousers and I have a real love/hate relationship thing going on with your writings at the moment. But dayum, woman, the trousers may lose this round.

Dee said...

Oh dear. I know, Wendy. I have learned to buy trousers with elastic waist bands. (sigh)

Mage And George said...

If I ever get below 200 poounds, I assure you these will be first on my list.

Dee said...

Ah, Mage, there you go -- make them in the (better) small size and count them as a well-earned reward!

Anonymous said...

I am in a conundrum! Coming from just north of Boston, your comments about "our team" didn't go down too well, however, these cookies have more than made up for any old football stuff - since I hate the game myself - and may just wind up in our tummies one of these fine days. Thanks for the fabulous recipe-prose, as well!

Dee said...

Gee, Bex, you oughta hear the comments I endure about my Raiders! (grin) In any case, a few of these magic cookies will take away the pain of any indiscriminate prattle about football teams. Dip 'em in melted dark chocolate and you won't even note outright slander. Good grief -- have we accidentally discovered the means to World Peace?

Kate said...


Gordo said...

Mmmmmm, thumbprint cookies ... :-)

My Mom still makes them when her group of church ladies has a bake sale or other food event.

Football could fall of the planet for all I care and I'm not a big fan of lemon, either. My wife is, though. Maybe I'll try some of this to surprise her.

Mage And George said...

Just thing of my restraint in not discussing "your" Raiders...who are "our" problem children every year. If you ever come to one of the games here, you will find 20 cops per inch awaiting you.

Nope, not making those perfection cookies. I would eat even all the small ones immediatly.

I just wanted to comment that opeing your blog is fractionally disconcerting as we are well past the Super Bowl now. :)

Dee said...

Yep, Kate! Yummmm indeed. (smile)

Gordo, how sweet of you to make the cookies for you wife who, I'm sure, deserves the treat. But you can put another flavor of jam or jelly in some of them, just for you. I almost dabbed in some orange marmalade, myself.

Mage, if I went to a real live Raiders game, I'd BEG for the protection of 20 cops. In person, those Black Hole denizens would scare the beyaysus out of me! I am strictly a woosie television fan.