Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Come December time, my kitchen often looks like a tornado just torn through it.  Well, at least that's how my darling hubby describes it.  Feels like it.  Looks like it.  I guess you can call it so.  Except, I'd like to call it my Tasmanian Devil just torn through the kitchen days.  This year, the days of destruction is less than last year's.  Mainly because for the last week or two, I've had to take out 3 of my teeth, and hadn't been able to eat whatever I want.  Baking up a storm doesn't help in a sense that I'd get to see but not eat.  So I did not bake much, until this week that is.  The Tasmanian devil has torn through my kitchen again.  Flour, castor sugar, powdered sugar, chocolate bits, melted chocolate, rolling pin, parchment papers...  Yup!  They covered my kitchen workspace alright.

One of my favorite website for looking up recipes is Joy of Baking.  I haven't really played with cookies until last year.  Yeah, I know, what was I thinking.  I guess I was going crazy with cakes?  Eeehhh...  So, anyway, last year I decided to bake a batch of little somethings for our friends and hubby's colleagues, and so I found something easy from the Joy of Baking website to start me off.  

This year, that was where I started my search as well. I started off with their recipe for shortbread cookies, but decided that it needs a little more "oomph" to it.  So, I ended up whipping up a lemon icing for the cookies.  YAY!  The lemon icing gives the slightly sweet cookie an edge of tartness.  Just perfect!  If you try this, do let me know how you like it ^.^

1- You can prepare the dough ahead of time.  Wrapping it tightly then freezing it allows you to make your cookies anytime you want.  When you want to bake it, just leave the dough out at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes before rolling out and baking.
2- Playing: Dip the whole thing in chocolate, or the whole thing in lemon icing.  Hey, it's up to your own liking right? :)
3- When mixing the flour for the cookies, try not to over mix.  Slightly crumbly is okay, as long as you don't see flour pockets.  This will help improve the crispiness of the cookie.
4- I find that rolling out your dough between two sheets of parchment/wax papers is easier for me.

Chocolate Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread Cookies (recipes adapted from Joy of Baking)
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into smaller pieces
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Using a paddle beater on your mixer, beat the butter until creamy and smooth.
Add in sugar and continue beating until smooth.
Add in vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
Add in the flour and mix until just combined.
Flatten out the dough to about 1 inch thickness on a plastic wrap.
Wrap it up tightly, and chill for at least an hour.
***At this point, you can freeze it until you need to bake***
Line two baking sheets with parchment papers.
Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper (wax paper works too) into 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut out your cookies with a cookie cutter, and line them up on your baking sheets.
Collect the rest of the dough into a ball, then repeat the rolling out and cutting until all the dough has been used.
Place your cut-out cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to help firm the dough before baking.  This will help the cookies to retain the shapes better.
Preheat the oven to 325°F (177°C) while the cookies are chilling.
Bake for about 8-12 minutes until lightly browned.
Remove from the oven, and cool on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Dip
 3/4 cup (4-5 oz) semi-sweet or bitter sweet chocolate, finely chopped
Place the chopped chocolates in a microwavable bowl.
Microwave on medium heat setting for 30 seconds.
Remove the bowl and stir.
Place the bowl back into the microwave for another 30 seconds, and repeat until you have a smooth melted chocolate.
At a 45° angle, dip half of the face of the shape in the melted chocolate.
Place it on a parchment paper to cool, about 10-15 minutes.  If you live in warmer climates, do cool them in the refrigerator.

Lemon Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
2-1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Place all ingredients in a small bowl, and gently whisk with a fork until you have a smooth glaze that is thick, but pourable.
Dip the other half of the cookie, also at 45° angle, into the lemon icing.
Place it on a parchment paper to set, also about 10-15 minutes.

Good luck!  If you're traveling over the holidays season, do be safe.  Happy Holidays!

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