Sunday, December 12, 2010

'Twas the Week Before Christmas and All Through the House....

Wafted the scent of shortbread, hungering the mouse...... 

I have a confession to make...  Though it may seem a little silly to put so much pressure on a simple cookie, it's just not Christmas without shortbread.  And while I vaguely alluded to this last year around the holidays when I published my Scottish Shortbread recipe, I feel the time has come to divulge the somewhat scary truth about my Christmas Shortbread obsession.   For Green Tea and Plain are merely the tip of the iceberg.

With the advent of English Toffee Shortbread I have added yet another feather in the proverbial Christmas Shortbread "hat".  Which is awesome, cause one should always have delicious treats ready just in case carolers stop by or you have impromptu guests.  For nothing bespeaks of the Holidays like a warm cup of coffee or tea with a delicious shortbread cookie.

My admission of this idée fixe comes with a warning....  There will be several more posts forth coming such as Lavender and Meyer Lemon Shortbread, Candy Cane Shortbread, Lemon Drop Shortbread and, of course, I will be revisiting English Toffee Shortbread, Green Tea Shortbread and good old traditional Scottish Shortbread petticoat tails, to be swathed with copious quantities of fresh Key Lime curd.  YUM!

Then, just because I HAVE to be a little off-centered;  I will be bustin out some Savory Shortbreads.. Yep, savory ones, such as Chive and Provolone (served with Creme Fraiche and Caviar), Roasted Garlic with Thyme and Asiago as well as White Cheddar and Pancetta.   Cause nothin' says lovin' from the Holiday oven like Bacon!!!  Am I right; or am I right?

You will notice that some of these recipes use Cultured Butter, while others do not.  This is a judgment call in regards to the flavor.  For instance, the Lavender and Meyer Lemon shortbread really benefits from the use of Cultured Butter, it adds subtle nuances to the flavor.  The same goes for the savory Chive Shortbread.  However, when it comes to White Cheddar and Bacon or Candy Cane shortbread, the flavor of the added ingredients completely dominates, thus I have opted to use regular unsalted butter in these.  After all, Cultured Butter is expensive so it's use must be relegated to only those recipes where it is of paramount importance to over-all flavor.

You will also notice that most of the recipes are the same basic recipe with different "additions".  While this is true for the most part, there are certain changes to the "when" and "how" these additions are incorporated.  The Lemon Drops, Candy Canes and English toffee are all stirred in at the end; the Lavender and Meyer lemon zest, however, are added when beating the butter in order for the butter to absorb the oil soluble flavor components.  The cheeses are beaten into the butter to form a homogeneous mixture.  In a way, they are acting like the sugar component of sweet shortbread.

All of these recipes offer you a choice....  I chose to roll and cut some of them out because I had specific shapes in mind that I felt would be aesthetically pleasing with their white chocolate adornment.

While with others, I simply formed a log, refrigerated and sliced.

The choice is yours.

OK, I think I have yapped enough at this point...   So I will leave you with a picture of some of what is to come...  :)  

Top from the left: Lavender and Meyer Lemon, Green Tea with Orange oil White Chocolate, English Toffee
Bottom from the left: Lemon Drop with Lemon oil White Chocolate, Candy Cane with Peppermint White Chocolate

I would have thrown in the savory ones, but I have not baked them yet.  There just isn't enough time in the day.



Patti T. said...

A very interesting cookie plate you will have. For the first time ever I will be serving store bought cookies, Dr.s orders are for me to stay out of the kitchen for several more months, it is VERY hard to comply.

Culinary Alchemist said...

Several Months? I am sorry Patti, I hope everything will be OK.