Shortbread Experiments

For some reason, I’ve considered shortbread to be an insurmountable wall. I have no idea why, because I don’t think I’ve even looked at a recipe until last week. Even then, I was just looking for another cookie recipe to play with.

These are damn near foolproof. I can whip these up without looking at the recipe, which is amazing, because I’ve been known to ruin those Pillsbury crescent rolls. It’s kind of like my ability to kill bamboo: damn near a superpower.

They are also quite amenable to experimentation, being somewhat blank-slate cookies. I’m posting the basic recipe, and then the variations.

Cream 1 stick room temperature butter and 1/4 cup sugar.
Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tblsp milk or cream and a pinch of salt, mix thoroughly. If you are using flavorings, add now.
Mix in 1 and 1/4 cup flour.
Roll into logs of desired size, roll in sugar until lightly coated. Wrap in tinfoil, freeze for 30-60 minutes, or until solid enough to slice easily.
Preheat oven to 350. Slice cookies, bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom. (They won’t spread very much at all, so they can be put close together.)

Let them cool. Quickly give them to all your friends so you don’t eat them all. No, seriously.

Now, variations:

1/4 tsp fresh, or 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers, ground.
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Earl Grey-Orange with Brown Sugar and Almonds
2 tsp Earl Grey tea
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup dry-roasted almonds, chopped.

Substitute brown sugar for the white. Soak tea in 2 tablespoons of warmed milk. Add with vanilla and salt. (the tea soaks up enough milk that it will be too dry if you only use 1 tablespoon)
Add almonds at the very end.
Roll in coarse brown sugar instead of white.

Jasmine-Green Tea with lime and black sesame

2 tsp jasmine tea, prepared according to the directions above.
1/2 tsp lime zest, divided in half
1/2 cup black sesame seeds

Mix tea and 1/4 tsp lime zest into batter according to the directions for the Earl Grey. Instead of rolling the dough in plain sugar, sprinkle a mix of sesame, lime zest and white sugar for each log. Absolutely beautiful cookies. (The sesame is a strong flavor, so use sparingly.)

I’ve got all sorts of other ideas up my sleeve, involving whiskey, chocolate, saffron, orange-flower water, cumin…the list is endless. I’ll post new variations as I find them. Enjoy!

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