Did you know today’s National Shortbread Day? Random, but true. So, to celebrate, I decided to make some shortbread cookies.
I’ve never made shortbread before, but I’ve eaten it. Sort of. I was on a plane en route to Philadelphia a couple years ago, and the in-flight snack included a small package of Walkers shortbread cookies. Which I was pretty excited about, because, you know, delicious cookies! So I took a bite, and realized that Scotland’s idea of shortbread is a lot different from Lorna Doone‘s idea of shortbread. Which is to say, Scottish shortbread doesn’t taste so much like delicious cookies as it does a stick of butter. And I know that appeals to lots of people, but what appeals to me is sugar, and lots of it. Walkers didn’t cut it.
So, with that experience in the back of my mind, I went looking around for the least Scottish, and therefore most delicious, shortbread recipe in the world. I was really excited to stumble across this Martha Stewart recipe, because it calls for the shortbread to be covered by a layer of peanut butter. And the one person I know who is actually from Scotland — Danny, our Web developer — just happens to be allergic to peanut butter. What luck! Because if one Scottish person won’t eat peanut butter-covered shortbread, it’s perfectly logical to conclude that the entire country won’t eat it. Which would make this the least Scottish shortbread ever!
To test my theory, I emailed Danny and told him I was about to bake some shortbread covered with peanut butter. His response: “Why would you ruin shortbread like that? What is wrong with you??”
Clearly, I’d found the winning recipe.
These are pretty easy cookies to make. I think I undercooked them a little, as you can see in the photos, but they’re still tasty. Martha’s version called for using a basket-weave mat to mold the chocolate layer, which sounded complicated, and also ugly. Who wants to eat a cookie that looks like a basket? I want to eat a cookie that looks delicious. And baskets are not delicious. So, I just spread the melted chocolate on top of the peanut butter layer, and then put it in the refrigerator to firm it up for easier cutting.
Except then I went to work, and by the time I got home, the chocolate layer was, like, rock-hard. Which made cutting the cookies harder; the chocolate layer cracked and the peanut butter smooshed out. If you happen to run into the same problem, just leave the cookies out at room temperature for about a half-hour, and the chocolate will become a little more manageable.
Recipe: Chocolate peanut butter shortbread squares
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2008
- Vegetable oil cooking spray
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons coarse salt
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
- 12 ounces milk chocolate, melted
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- Coat a 9½-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides, and coat parchment with spray.
- Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running, add sugar, and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Press dough evenly into pan. Cover, and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake shortbread until golden brown and firm in center, 45 to 50 minutes. Let shortbread cool in pan on a wire rack.
- Use parchment to unmold shortbread from pan, and trim edges to create a square. Spread peanut butter evenly on shortbread. Spread melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.
- Cut shortbread into 1½-inch squares. Shortbread will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.
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