I heard sweet laughter coming from the other room.
Giggles. Belly laughs.
It was music to my ears. Winter has been really rough this year, especially for the boys. It’s brutally cold. And because of the frigid temperatures we’ve been cooped up in the house for what seems like an eternity. The day-to-day struggles have become routine; digging out the cars, salting the ice and shoveling snow. Hearing them play, completely unaware of the seasonal stress made me smile.
Then it stopped.
No more laughter.
I quietly approached their room to investigate… but they were gone.
Both boys were up to their elbows in toilet water!
I caught them drowning a stuffed animal in the toilet, OK? They had ripped it open, exposing all of its polyester stuffing which clogged the bowl. Yes, that puffy white stuff that looks like cotton balls.
I quickly disappeared to grab rubber gloves and a garbage bag while threatening them to stand still.
When I came back, I wanted to scream. I found them both peeing in the toilet!
ON THE ANIMAL!
Who are these creatures?!
But it was partially my fault.
Thirty minutes prior to the stuffed animal incident, we were baking cookies.
Cookies + sugar = crazy.
It was a natural progression, I guess.
About those cookies…
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to baking. Call me boring but I like the classics; buttery shortbread, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal raisin to name a few. I’ll bake them over and over again.
As a result of repetition, these recipes usually evolve into something slightly different than the original.
This time I experimented with shortbread. My grandmother used to make a cherry crumble dessert with the most delicious crumb topping. Everyone went crazy for that crust! It was light, buttery, crispy, crumbly…
Instead of using her recipe to make a crumble, I was inspired to morph the dough into cookies.
It was made by hand with salted butter and egg yolks.
Old vs. New
Now, if you are an avid shortbread maker you’ll recognize that a traditional recipe includes none of the above.
There are no eggs and salted butter is a big faux-pas in baking (you’re supposed to use unsalted butter so that you can control the sodium content). But I beg to differ- I’m using more and more salted butter in my baking these days because I like the flavor.
Did you know that salt makes cookie dough easier to roll? Who needs rules!
The final result rivals any good shortbread cookie. I’ve included a couple of variations if you’d like to play around.
To the dough:
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 0r 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1/4 tsp. Fiori di Sicilia extract- notes of lemon, orange, and vanilla
From a health stand point, the only way to reduce a significant amount of calories is to decrease the butter. However, this will drastically change the texture. And to be honest, shortbread is known for its melt-in-your-mouth texture. I’m not messing with it. Did I mention they’re mini?
You could always swap a portion of all purpose flour for whole grain or almond flour if you prefer.
We baked mittens and hearts…
This is winter my friends.
And in the next couple of days, we’ll be trading in stir-crazy snow days for sun and sand… we’re going on vacation! It was quite the spontaneous decision. But so worth it. It will be the boys’ first time on an airplane (yes, I’m crazy) but a much needed break from the cold weather (I’ve got iPads!).
Stay warm where ever you are.
Talk soon, xo Emilie
Tips for Shortbread Success
- Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to prevent sticking. This is fool poof.
- Bake low and slow. Set your oven to about 325 F for best results. Any higher and the cookies will brown around the edges. A low oven will ensure even browning or ‘blonding’ I should say.
- Cold dough bakes up the best. If it becomes too soft to handle, pop it in the fridge to firm up. It’s much easier to cut and shape this way.
- Swap granulated sugar for vanilla sugar. I used homemade and it was not overpowering at all.
- Also, freeze half of the dough for future cravings. This recipe makes a lot of cookies!
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- 3 c. sifted flour
- 2 sticks of salted butter, cubed
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 c. sugar
- powdered sugar for decoration
- Preheat your oven to 325 F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and rub together using your fingertips. The heat from your hands will incorporate the butter into the mix.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar, and add to the flour.
- Gently mix the dough with your hands until it comes together into a ball. Do not over mix.
- Flatten into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes- overnight.
- When you are ready to bake, roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick. Do this between 2 pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap to prevent sticking.
- Press your cookies cutters into the dough and transfer the shapes to a baking sheet. If the dough starts to soften, place it back into the fridge to chill and then start again.
- Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes on the tray. Transfer to a wire rack.
- When the cookies are completely cool, dust with powdered sugar.