Shortbread, etc.

Inspired by a trip to Penzeys yesterday, I made lavender shortbread tonight. I modified a Smitten Kitchen recipe, mainly just by adding the lavender. Although I apparently wasn’t paying close enough attention because when I got to the “put dough in pan” step, I thought, “Huh. This is a really wet dough.” Upon rechecking the recipe, I realized I had doubled the butter by mistake. So I doubled the rest of the recipe and added a tablespoon of lavender.

Blog author’s past, singular, experience of lavender shortbread here. Please note that I was a thin, crisp iteration of shortbread, with a delicate, dare I say, teasing aroma of lavender.

So I got to the dough-in-pan step again. And I tasted the dough. Which tasted at first like a sweet, strong lavender and then punched me in the mouth with camphor. Blech. In an effort to be thrifty with my butter though, I looked for salvation. Yes, I doubled the recipe again and added the new batch to to lavender-toxic batch. Luckily, that brought the lavender down to non-hazardous levels. For anyone keeping track at home, I now have a quadrupled shortbread in the works.

Is there anything wrong with baking an enter cookie sheet of lavender? I don’t mean I had enough pieces to fill a cookie sheet for baking, I mean the pan was spread edge to edge with shortbread dough.

Me again. Is shortbread a dough or a batter? And should it be over an inch thick on the pan?

I baked the entire thing for 45 minutes, then cut it up into pieces to bake for an additional 15 minutes. The flavor is good, but I’m thinking I need to work on my shortbread wrangling if I’m going to produce something more attractive than this:

Image

Why yes, I did enjoy a piece.

As you can see, it’s not the prettiest looking cookie. But the taste is good, which is nice, since I’ll be eating it for about a month. It has a fine crumb, but the appropriately dense, flaky texture I fancy in a shortbread.

I can safely rest on my pedestal. Those lumps didn’t stand a chance of touching me.

I’m also thinking these would do very well in a gluten-free recipe. There’s no rising and you need about a metric ton of butter, meaning some of the less desirable flavors associated with the many forms of GF flour should be masked. The plain shortbread recipe is also very easy to tweak, just maybe start with less than a tablespoon of another flavor.

I made a few other goodies today: pretzels(a fav for Himself and I), kale with apricots, and a potentially/truly bad fudge. I had some coconut milk that had been sitting in the fridge for a little too long, so I found a coconut milk fudge recipe. Lacking condensed milk, I used cream, agave nectar and peanut butter, then thought it wasn’t very sweet, so I poured salted caramel on top. And I may have burned the caramel.

All of these details and information are (I’m now realizing) a long-winded way of saying some days in the kitchen are more adventurous than others. I hadn’t spent a solid afternoon/evening cooking or baking in a while, since the rental house kitchen is teeny. But I was in need of the kind of therapy that produces a minor backache and week’s worth of food/month’s worth of shortbread. I got my therapy, we got a good dinner, and hopefully I won’t poison us with that fudge.

Last thing: My all-time favorite cookbook is Appetite, by Nigel Slater. He’s a wonderfully British home cook who has an amazing voice for food and cooking. He’s so encouraging that reading his recipes are like having your kindergarten teacher showing you how to cook, as in you can do no wrong and will almost certainly receive a gold star, even if you make something inedible, because hey, we’re learning, right? He is a cook clearly familiar with adventurous (read: unsuccessful) cooking days and pushes the reader to have them too. Ultimately, if you make bad food, you can probably get takeout or make a peanut butter sandwich. Therefore, take chances and have fun. This concept is not rocket surgery. But it’s very comforting.

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