HELLO AGAIN after two months dear foodies- yes, I am alive and eating still!
Firstly my sincerest apologies for my long absence- this course at the Actors Studio Drama School is as intense and all-consuming as its notorious reputation, leaving me no time to sleep let alone cook, photograph the results and blog as often as I would like. In fact, what I should be doing right now instead of writing this is study for our final Theatre History exam taking place in 3 days, but given the infectious Christmas air in New York, the deliciousness of these buttery morsels and my desire to end the neglect of this space ASAP, the sharing of this recipe has pushed its way to the top of my priority list.
The following is not an original creation but my twist on many other recipes I compared online- as a huge fan of shortbread I have to admit the results are everything shortbread should be: fragrant, crunchy yet melt-in-the-mouth, indulgent yet moreish, sweet yet salty and studded generously throughout with rich hits of dark chocolate. I have added 2 tsp of mixed spice and cut them into pretty shapes to inject some holiday spirit into it all, but if you prefer you can always omit the spice and slice into traditional bars.
Be sure to leave enough time for the butter to soften in advance and the dough to chill for 2 hours before baking.
Spiced Chocolate Chip Shortbread
Makes about 30 chunky pieces (my cookie cutters were about 2 1/2 inches long)
Whisk on medium speed with an electric mixer (or blend in a food processor) until smooth:
225g/2 sticks butter, at room temperature* (do NOT substitute with margarine)
85g (2/3 cup) icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*Tip- getting the butter soft first is essential if you're using a handheld whisk. If you forgot to take it out of the fridge early, stick to a food processor as the blades easily cut through hard butter anyway.
Fold in using a spatula (or pulse gently in a food processor) until a pliable dough is formed:
300g (2 cups) plain flour (or more if your dough is still sticky)
1 tsp mixed spice
Fold in roughly 125g (3/4 cup) dark chocolate chips.
Press the whole lot of dough into a large bowl, cover the surface completely with cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
1) Find a clean hard surface to roll your dough on (I place a sheet of cling film-usually the one that was covering the dough in the fridge-on my kitchen countertop). If you're lucky enough to have a marble table or worktop that is already clean, you can of course skip the plastic wrap.
2) Lightly dust the surface with some flour.
3) Using a spatula or a big metal spoon, scoop out a large mound of dough onto the floured surface. If you have the luxury of a spacious counter top, you can of course roll the entire amount of dough out at once- my kitchen is tiny so I find small sections at a time more manageable.
4) Pat the dough down firmly with your hands (a rolling pin is not needed but use one if you like) until it forms an even disk about 1/2 inch thick, dusting with a bit more flour if necessary. Cut into shapes using a knife or a cutter and arrange onto a cookie tray.
5) Gather all the leftover bits of dough into a ball, add another mound of dough and repeat step 4 until all the batter is used up.
Bake for 20 mins at 160 C/ 325F until pale golden, rotating the trays halfway so they brown evenly.
If desired, dust with icing sugar whilst the cookies are still warm for a snowy effect. Let cool.
Delight your friends with these homemade gifts, or proceed to stuff your face!:)