Do you ever have those “fail-proof-magical-why-don’t-people-do-this-all-the-time” ideas?
Yes, those “AH HA!” moments, where you jump up and down with excitement. Because you’re a genius. Obviously.
Well, if you don’t, it’s probably for the best… because typically these little gems of inspiration turn out to be colossal disasters for me. Luckily, I tend to gain just as much pleasure at shaking my head and thinking “did I really think this would actually work?” as I expected to gain from the outcome of the idea if it actually worked. I like funny situations. A lot.
Well, the other night I had the habitual predicament after I returned from class one (cold and rainy!!) night… tea or wine? I mean, I could do both, but order matters. I can’t do tea, then wine, without waiting for a while, and I wanted dinner with wine. And, well, I was super hungry. Then, I could have done wine, then tea, but I was really cold, so I needed something hot to drink.
Only option: put my wine in a mug, with a tea strainer full of rooibos tea and cinnamon, and blast it in the microwave for a minute and a half. (Please note that AT LEAST my tea strainer was plastic, not metal.) Worst. Idea. Ever.
Not only did I create a mini Vesuvius, but also the concoction was disgusting. Burnt alcohol flavoured liquid. Mmmm.
In the end I gave up on wine, and the cold Jessica opted for tea. It was fine.
My disaster from the night before encouraged me to try something simple to bake the next morning. These cookies come from a standard, yet delicious, recipe that you can’t stuff up too badly. It wasn’t the wildest baking moment and/or idea that I’ve ever had, but it worked. Plus, they’re very tasty and go wonderfully with tea.
Insert sigh of relief.
(Adapted from Ina Garten: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/shortbread-cookies-recipe/index.html)
Shortbread cookies – What you need:
- 1 ½ cups unsalted margarine (for vegan baking!) or butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- chocolate and decorations, for optional embellishment
Shortbread cookies – What you do:
In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and margarine until well combined with an electric beater. Add the vanilla and beat a few more times until mixed.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour and salt. I always use grated sea salt, so I threw this in without the flour so the sea salt pieces didn’t get caught in the sifter! (I like the salty bites!)
In three additions, add the flour to the sugar/margarine mixture. Beat well after each time to make sure the dough is incorporated well.
Form the dough into a ball, and throw it onto a (clean) lightly floured surface. Pat the ball down and shape it into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap or in a freezer bag, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
After the dough has rested in the fridge, preheat the oven to 180c.
Take the dough out, and roll it onto a floured surface until the dough is around 1 centimeter thick.
Use fun and funky cookie-cutter shapes to design your cookies.
Continue to roll the left-over dough out and cut cookies. I tasted the cookies from the first batch and from the last batch, and they were equally delicious even though I rolled the dough out four times!
(Wine bottles have way too many uses for their own good... one of which is a rolling pin!)
Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet, and pop them in the oven for 17-20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly brown. Allow the cookies to cool on a cooling rack.
This makes around 40 cookies (of my size and shape!).
Melt chocolate in a microwave. Make sure you check the chocolate frequently, stirring at intervals, so it doesn’t get burnt or clumpy.
Dip your cookies into the melted chocolate, or spread the chocolate on with a spoon.
Place the chocolate-fied cookies on parchment paper. You can throw some sprinkles on while the chocolate is still hot, or you can leave them as is!
Allow the chocolate to cool and harden completely before storing these cookies.
I used vegan margarine and some left-over vegan chocolate chips, so these ones were vegan. But, if you’re not a vegan, I would recommend using a GOOD butter, because that’s the star of these cookies. I only had the necessary amount of margarine on hand!
I also dipped some of the cookies in milk chocolate, because my sister doesn’t like dark chocolate : D.