Shortbread is pretty irresistible. Typically, recipes are only subtly different. I wanted to try this version because it resulted in a tender cookie, incorporated vanilla bean paste, and because it was Deb Perelman’s favorite.
The cookies were definitely more tender than any other shortbread I’ve made in the past. This is the result from using confectioners’ sugar instead of granulated sugar and from the semolina flour.
I made them for our St. Patrick’s Day dessert. Deb Perelman re-posted the recipe when the new Ted Lasso season began. 🙂 The recipe was adapted from smittenkitchen.com. I liked the cutting and shaping method. I weighed all of the dry ingredients.
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or almond extract or lemon or orange zest or extracts)
250 grams (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
45 g (1/4 cup) semolina flour
Heat your oven to 300°F. (I set my oven to convection.)
Line an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. (No need to grease.)
In a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt together, scraping frequently, until butter is soft. (see note below for alternatively using a food processor)
Add flavoring of choice and flour, and mix just until combined, scraping down the bowl again. This is the same order as for a hand mixer, but with a hand mixer, you’ll want the butter semi-softened first.
Add dough to the prepared baking pan in chunks. Use hands to press evenly into the pan, then an offset spatula or the base of a measuring cup to smooth the top.
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven to cut into shapes. Leave oven on.
Shape the cookies: For the 8-inch square pan: Repeatedly lay a bamboo skewer on the top of the cookie square to make an imprint to help you cut it into 3 even columns (about 2.5 inches wide) in one direction and 8 thin bars (just shy of 1 inch) in the other. Use the back of a wooden skewer to drag across the surface, making slightly indented lines first, then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan. (For a 9-inch round pan: Use a 2 to 3-inch round cookie cutter or glass to cut the center. Then, use a skewer (explained above) to gently indent lines like sun rays or the hands of a clock from the inner circle to the outer edge of the cookie so that they’re your desired size wedges. Then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan.
Dock the cookies all over, about 1/3 deep, with the back of the skewer (for bigger dots) or the pointy end (for smaller holes).
Return pan to the oven for another 25 to 35 minutes, until cookies have a deep golden edge but are mostly pale across the top. Watch closely in the last 10 to 15 minutes so they don’t over bake.
Let cool in pan, or, if you’re impatient, let them cool for 10 minutes, and then remove them.
Note:In a food processor: Combine powdered sugar, salt, and flour in the work bowl, pulsing a few times. Add flavoring of choice and butter and pulse several times to chop the butter down into smaller pieces. Then, run the machine until it is fully incorporated, coming together in a smooth mass, 1 to 2 minutes more. Scrape down the bowl a few times for even mixing.
Do ahead: Shortbread keeps for 1 week, if not longer, at room temperature. It freezes well too, just wrap it tight.
This is another Smitten Kitchen recipe that I couldn’t resist trying. I love baked goods that incorporate whole wheat flour and this one also includes oat bran and old-fashioned rolled oats. 🙂
The recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I modified the size and baking time and refrigerated the rationed dough overnight.
Yield: about 20 (1 1/2 tablespoon) cookies or 10 (3 tablespoon) cookies
4 T (50 g) raw or turbinado sugar
1/2 cup (95 g) dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 large egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup (95 g) whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour) or medium rye flour
1/4 cup (25 g) oat bran, wheat germ, wheat bran, or finely chopped nuts (such as walnuts)
1 1/2 cups (120 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
flaky sea salt, optional
In a large bowl, beat sugars, butter, and salt together until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add egg and vanilla; beat until mixed.
Sprinkle baking powder and baking soda over the batter and beat until very well-combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat again.
Scrape the bowl down and add the flour, oat bran (or another option), oats, and chocolate; mix just until the flour disappears.
Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon or 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, ration the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
When ready to bake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the mounds of dough 2 inches apart for smaller scoops or 3 inches apart for larger scoops on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with a couple flakes of sea salt.
Bake 1 1/2 tablespoon cookies for about 10 minutes and 3 tablespoon cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time, or until golden brown all over.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
Note: Extra dough will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days and longer in the freezer. Freeze rationed scoops of dough on a tray and transfer to a freezer bag when solid. If baking frozen scoops of dough, add 1 to 2 minutes to the baking time.
This recipe was adapted from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen.com. I doubled the recipe to make 12 desserts, used lemon juice instead of zest, and used potato bread instead of white sandwich bread. I measured the berries prior to slicing them.
I loved the combination of browned butter with berries in these simple tarts. We ate them with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. They would also be wonderful served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
Yield: 6 muffin-sized desserts
3/4 stick salted or unsalted butter
1 tsp granulated sugar
6 slices potato sandwich bread or white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated OR 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp coarse salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 cup panko
2 (generous) cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection, with rack in middle.
Make the Brown Butter: In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, reduce heat to medium-low. The butter will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is less than a minute. Remove from heat.
Lightly butter muffin cups with some of brown butter, then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Roll bread slices with a rolling pin to flatten.
Brush both sides with additional brown butter, then gently fit into muffin cups.
Stir together brown sugar, zest or juice, salt, and panko.
Add strawberries to the sugar mixture and toss to coat.
Stir in remaining brown butter.
Heap strawberry mixture into the prepared bread cups, pressing gently.
Cover pan with foil, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes.
Uncover and bake until strawberries are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes more. (I baked mine for 12 minutes more.)
Let stand 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This was a belated side dish to add onto my husband’s celebratory birthday meal. We love drawn out celebrations. 😉 (We also wanted to spread out our indulgences!)
This classic recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com; I modified the proportions and method. I may add shallots instead of yellow onion next time. It was fabulously rich and delicious.
Yield: Serves 6
2 to 2 1/2 pounds fresh baby spinach or regular spinach, tough stems discarded (I used baby spinach)
1 3/4 cups whole milk and/or heavy cream (I used 1 cup whole milk & 3/4 cup heavy cream)
1/2 of a large onion or 1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Wash your spinach well but no need to spin or pat it dry.
Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. (I used a pasta pot without the insert.) Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach.
Press or squeeze out the excess liquid any number of ways, either by using a potato ricer (my favorite method), wringing it out in cheesecloth, putting it in a mesh strainer and pressing the moisture out with a spatula or large spoon or letting it cool long enough to grab small handfuls and squeezing them to remove as much water as possible.
Coarsely chop the wrung-out spinach.
Wipe out large pot so you can use it again. (I actually used a medium saucepan instead.)
Heat milk or cream in a measuring cup in the microwave or in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Keep warm. (If using the microwave, heat the mixture immediately before using.)
Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic in butter in your wiped-out large pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about six minutes.
Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, about three minutes.
Add warm milk or cream in a slow stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, three to four minutes.
Stir in nutmeg, chopped spinach, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through.
Do ahead: Creamed spinach can be made one day ahead and chilled, covered then reheated over moderately low heat until hot. However, it really tastes best eaten immediately.
This pie is Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen’s updated Perfect Apple Pie to her “Even More Perfect Apple Pie.” I had to try it because the filling is loaded with an enormous amount of apples. Yum.
She introduced me to a new technique which I was very surprised to have never seen before or thought of myself! She covers the pie with a foil dome to prevent the crust from over-browning. Absolute genius.
This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. The updated pie recipe modifies the baking temperature and cooking time, increases volume of apples (with a link on how to choose pie apples), decreases the thickness of the apple slices, omits the lemon juice and zest, and uses tapioca as the thickener.
The incredible mound of apple filling keeps the finished pie from becoming concave after baking. Beautiful and delicious.
Yield: Serves 8 to 12
For the Filling:
1/2 cup (95 grams) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp ground cinnnamon
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, or about 1/4 teaspoon ground
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
4 1/4 to 4 1/2 pounds baking apples (I used a combination of several types of apples)
3 T tapioca flour or starch (I used minute tapioca)
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
1 T (15 grams) granulated sugar
1 tsp coarse salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
1 egg, lightly beaten, optional
coarse or raw sugar for sprinkling, optional
vanilla ice cream, optional
Make the Filling:
Combine sugars, salt, and spices in your absolutely largest bowl.
Peel, halve, and core your apples and cut them into thin (scant 1/4-inch) slices, adding them right to the big bowl.
Toss to coat the slices as much as possible. Set aside for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.
Make the Crust:
Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside.
In a large, very wide bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. (If the butter becomes slightly warm, re-refrigerate until very cold.)
Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with a pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly.
When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop- even if it looks uneven.
Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together.
Add an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, one tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and use your hands to gather the damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk.
Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out. (I make my dough a day in advance.)
Once the dough is chilled and ready to go, roll out the first half on a well-floured counter into a 14-inch circle and transfer it to 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate.
With scissors or kitchen shears, trim overhang to one inch all around. Refrigerate dish and dough until needed.
For a regular pie lid, roll out the second dough half into the same sized circle, transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. For a lattice or woven pie lid, you can use the same sized circle, or you can just roll it into a rectangle at least 14″ in one direction, and then as long or wide you can get it in the other. Transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. (I made a 10-piece lattice top.)
Do ahead: Dough will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.
To Make the Pie:
Heat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
Stir tapioca starch into the apple pie filling.
Pour filling into prepared bottom crust and use your hands to pack and heap those softened apples as mounded as you can get them, then add a few more.
Pour any juices that have accumulated carefully over apples; do not leave any behind.
Either place your second pie dough round over the filling or cut it into strips to lattice the top.
Trim the top crust or lattice strips to the edge of the pie dish. Fold the overhang from the lower crust over to form a thick rim, and crimp it together with your fingers or a fork to seal it.
Brush top crust with egg, then sprinkle with sugar if desired. If your top crust is in one piece, cut a few vents in it with a sharp knife.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on the large baking sheet for easier cleanup, then transfer your prepared pie onto it.
Bake for 75 minutes, turning once or twice for even color. If your pie is browning too fast, take a large square of foil, mold it over the back of a large bowl into a convex dome, then use that to cover the pie in the oven for the remaining baking time so it doesn’t brown much further. The pie is done when juices are bubbling visibly through the vents or lattice, or when the internal temperature reads 195°F. A tester inserted into the pie shouldn’t hit any overtly crunchy apple pieces. (I added an additional 10 minutes to the baking time t achieve the 195°F internal temperature.)
To Serve: Cool pie for at least one hour at room temperature before cutting into it. However, your filling will not fully thicken until it has fully cooled, ideally in the fridge for a couple hours. You can rewarm slices as you serve them, if desired. Leftovers keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, and in the fridge for 1 week. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
As if my CSA zucchini wasn’t enough, my friend brought me more beautiful zucchini from her garden. I made four loaves of this bread (two batches) with a single zucchini! Amazing.
This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen. I incorporated whole wheat flour. As suggested, I used less sugar and also omitted the add-ins. We ate some, shared some, and froze some for later. This loaf improves with time- perfect to make the night before serving it for breakfast. I imagine it would also be delicious lightly toasted and topped with butter.
Yield: 2 loaves or 24 muffins
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sunflower oil (can also used olive oil or another vegetable oil)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (can also used half (or even all) turbinado or half light brown sugar)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 cups grated, packed zucchini, not wrung out (from about 10 oz zucchini)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
1 to 2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or chocolate chips (or a combination), optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
Generously grease 2 loaf pans (8×4 or 9×5) with butter and flour or with nonstick spray. Alternatively, grease 24 standard muffin cups or line with paper liners.
Whisk eggs, oil, butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bottom of a large bowl.
Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt over the wet ingredients and whisk them in well.
Stir in zucchini.
Gently stir in flours, mixing only until incorporated.
Fold in any add-ins, if using.
Divide between prepared pans and bake for 55 to 65 minutes for a loaf, 20 to 25 minutes for muffins, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cool for 10 minutes on a rack before inverting and removing from the pans. The loaves can also cool completely in pans.
Store wrapped in foil at room temperature for up to 5 days. Loaves also freeze well.