We live near several antique shops, and enjoy browsing them on the occasional Sunday. Dave wanders off to find art inspiration, while I can be found scouring the books, in search of vintage cookbooks. I’ve found a couple, but mostly come across those mail in recipe booklets that company’s send out… My oldest find has been a Fleischman Yeast recipe booklet from 1926… For me, reading through these books is like being taught the old ways from a great-grandmother, and as much as I love having fun with recipes and putting my own spin on them, I believe in the importance of remembering our culinary roots.
Hmm, I know what you’re thinking. That these are just plain, old, sugar cookies… But step a little closer, lean in, and let your nose tell you differently… Do you smell that? That delightful sweet/floral aroma? Know what it is?… Rose water and white chocolate… Now take a bite… Crisp edges and a soft, chewy centre. These cookies are bliss.
Are you a person who enjoys the simpler cookies? One’s that are free of distractions such as chocolate chips, nuts, fillings, frostings, and those pesky little sprinkles?… Some may call you boring, but I know it’s sophistication… and have I got the cookie for you!
These classic little wedges are made up of only a handful of ingredients, and while they boast none of the usual, crowd pleasing bling, they will draw you in with their rich butterscotch scent. Enjoy them with a nice hot cup of tea.
Vegan butterscotch extract may be difficult to find, but can be ordered online at either Lorann Oils or Silver Cloud Estates (please advise me, if you know that my information is out of date or inaccurate). Searching out specialty extracts may seem like a pain in the butt, but I think it’s worth the effort… If you insist on ignoring the benefit of butterscotch extract, then use a good quality vanilla (not imitation, please!). But I still don’t think it’s as good :-P
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 tbsp Cornstarch
1/3 cup Margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1/3 cup Shortening
1/2 cup Brown Sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp Butterscotch Extract (or good quality vanilla)
Preheat oven to 275°F and grease a round 8-inch pan. A spring form pan or a pan with a removable bottom work really well, but if you don’t have those, place parchment in the bottom of the pan (like I did) for easy removal.
Stir together the flour and cornstarch. Set aside.
Beat the margarine and shortening together on medium-high, until smooth and light (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and extract and beat for another 3 minutes (I stop at the 1 and 2 minute marks to scrape down the sides). Add the flour mixture and blend until just combined.
Scrape the dough into the pan and press it out evenly (the dough is soft and likes to stick to my fingers, so once it’s spread out somewhat evenly, I cover the top of the dough with plastic wrap and gently press it down with another round 8-inch pan), and smooth the surface (I used a spoon for this, that I periodically wet to keep the dough from sticking to it)… Once the surface was smooth, I ran the tines of a fork around the surface’s edge. This created the raised decorative edge, which I think is pretty, but optional.
Bake for 50 – 55 minutes until golden.
Place pan on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before removing and slicing into wedges.
Makes 12 wedges.
Earlier this year, I made a batch of Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies and immediately fell in love with them. I then, reluctantly, shared them with my tasters (I really wanted to hoard every cookie for myself), who devoured the batch and gave them rave reviews.
With such positive feedback, I couldn’t help but to dream up delicious variations. Of course, chocolate was the first to come to mind!
They turned out perfect! Pretty to look at, and the chocolate element gave them huge crowd appeal!… Note to self: these cookies would be an excellent addition to a bake sale.
I suggest using your favorite strawberry jam, for the filling. But really, any red jam would work beautifully (thinking cherry, raspberry, or cranberry)… Also, although the chocolate extract is optional, I highly recommend it for added chocolaty depth.
Chocolate Shortbread Thumbprints
1/2 cup Margarine (I use Earth Balance)
1/2 cup Shortening
2/3 cup Sugar
1 tbsp Plain Non-Dairy Yogurt (I used coconut)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Chocolate Extract (optional)
1/4 tsp Salt
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup Strawberry Jam
3 – 4 tbsp Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Stir together the flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
Beat the margarine and shortening until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the sugar and beat on medium for about 2 minutes. Add the yogurt, extracts, and salt, beat for another 2 – 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and beat on low or stir in by hand, until all the flour has been blended in (careful not to over mix).
Using a level tablespoon to measure, scoop dough, roll into a ball, place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookies sheet, and gently press into 1/4 inch – 1/2 inch thick discs. Make an indentation in the center of discs and fill with jam… I used a round shaped, 1/2 teaspoon to make the indentations.
Bake for 16 – 18 minutes.
Allow to cool on sheet for 1 – 2 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
When cookies have completely cooled, melt chocolate and drizzle over the top of cookies.
Makes about 30 cookies.
Oh I thought I was so clever… The plan was to bake a winning batch of cookies AND use up the excess jellybeans that the Easter Bunny left around here.
They looked so pretty. The dough tasted so yummy. The cookies were so bad!… How could something wielding so much potential, turn out so disgusting?… Ignoring, for a moment, the horrible texture that the candies lent to the cookies, they also produced a dreadful flavour combination. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been as bad, had I used those plain fruity flavoured jellybeans, but I had the gourmet mix. Take my word for it, mango, popcorn, and licorice don’t blend.
But luck was looking out for me…
At first it didn’t seem like luck. Quite the opposite… I wasn’t paying full attention when I started the dreadful jellybean batch, and (I don’t know how) ended up doubling the amount of shortening. Of course I didn’t realize this until after I had added the sugar, and was wondering why it looked so wrong. From there, the only course of action was to double up all the other ingredients too… As I blended, I wondered what I would do with the other half of the dough. Chocolate kept coming to mind, and with a few additions Hot Chocolate Cookies were born.
Preferably you will have marshmallow extract for the frosting, to complete the theme, but if you don’t, just use vanilla. However, if you are interesting in buying some, look for it in cake supplies stores or shop for it online (I order mine from Vanilla Food Company).
And so the lesson here is: When things seem to be going wrong in the kitchen, stay calm, take a step back, and just breathe. Some mistakes result in pretty sweet endings.
Hot Chocolate Cookies
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour
1 tbsp Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Shortening
1 tbsp Margarine
2/3 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Chocolate Extract (optional)
3 tbsp Plain Non-Dairy Yogurt (I used coconut)
4 tsp Non-Dairy Milk (I used almond)
5 – 6 tbsp Powdered Hot Chocolate Mix (dairy-free & without marshmallows)
Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Beat the shortening and margarine together until smooth and thoroughly blended. Add sugar and extracts, and beat until light and fluffy. Add yogurt and milk and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
Using a teaspoon to measure, scoop dough, roll into a ball, coat in hot chocolate mix, and place ball on a prepared cookie sheet. Repeat, placing balls 2 inches apart. Flatten balls to 1/2 inch thick.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
When completely cool, pipe or spread frosting (recipe follows) on the flat side of a cookie, then lightly sandwich with a second cookie on top.
Makes approximately 30 assembled cookies.
3 tbsp Shortening
1 tbsp Margarine
1 cup Icing Sugar
1 tsp Marshmallow Extract
1/2 tsp Non-Dairy Milk
Beat together the shortening and margarine until smooth and thoroughly combined. Add sugar and extract, and beat until light and fluffy. Add milk and beat for another 3 – 4 minutes.
This recipe makes just enough frosting to fill the 30 cookies. If you plan to spread your frosting more generously than I did, you may want to increase the recipe by 1/2.