Sunday, March 26, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Double Post: Irish Shortbread and Mint Sugar Cookies

I didn't just make pretzel bites for our day of St. Patrick's Day performances; I also made Irish shortbread. Amber had asked me one day if I knew how to make Irish shortbread and I said no but I could most likely follow a recipe for it. This basically got the idea in my head that I had to make it for St. Patrick's Day.

My original plan was that I would make a batch then divide it in two: half for performance day and half for work. But I ended up only making about 8 so I figured I'd make something else for work. So I turned to my cookbooks for a sugar cookie recipe (since I wanted to give my hard copies some attention). At the end of performance day, though, I had almost the same amount of shortbread that I'd started with. So I still made the sugar cookies and took both to work on St. Patrick's Day.

Irish Shortbread (source) and Mint Sugar Cookies (500 Best Cookies, Bars, & Squares, pg. 68)

Irish Shortbread Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter (one stick), softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour (not the same as cornmeal) (I couldn't find cornflour and an internet search showed that cornstarch is a good alternative so I used cornstarch instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Irish Shortbread Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and very fluffy, about five minutes. Sift together the flour, cornflour and salt.  Add little by little to the butter mixture until just combined into a dough.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, dump out the dough and knead a few times until a firm ball forms.  Sprinkle with flour and roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Dust the top of the dough with flour, add a piece of thick lace, and gently roll over the lace or a doily, making an impression into the dough (I didn't do this. I don't have lace or know where to find it and I didn't care if a lace impression was on the cookies or not).  Remove the lace and cut the dough into squares or into rounds (or use a cookie cutter like I did).  Add onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 15 minutes or until barely golden brown.

Mint Sugar Cookies Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus a lot more for rolling out and cutting)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp  each lemon and almond extract (optional - I replaced both with mint extract)
  • 1 tbsp milk or cream
  • Granulated or tinted sugar for sprinkling (optional)
  • (I squirted some liquid food coloring in at the end to make it green for the holiday. Didn't seem to affect the chemistry of the other ingredients)

Mint Sugar Cookies Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375℉
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in egg until well incorporated. Stir in vanilla, almond extract, and lemon extract (or whatever extract you're using instead of the almond and lemon), and milk or cream. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until dough is firm enough to handle. (At this point, I added food coloring.) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters or a glass dipped in flour, cut out desired shapes (I was constantly in need of flour as I kept rolling the dough out). Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and sprinkle with sugar (if using). Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately transfer to wire racks to cool.

Personally I felt I didn't cook the shortbread long enough (it barely looked brown) but another website that had the same recipe had pale shortbread in the picture that was with the recipe so I think I was OK. Also, I couldn't really taste the mint in the cookies but a co-worker said she could so I guess 1/2 teaspoon is good enough (after watching the most recent season of Kids Baking Championship where one of the contestants used a tablespoon more than once to add extract for flavor and the judges commented how strong the flavor was each time, I didn't want to overpower everyone. Although maybe I should've used a teaspoon for a stronger, more prevalent flavor). In the end, my cookie plate was empty by lunch, 4 1/2 hours after I put it out on St. Patrick's Day, so I'd say it was a big success.

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