Wednesday, July 13, 2011

chocolate chip shortbread

Do you ever find a baking idea comes into your head & stays there until you bake it out? I do. All the time. In fact, cake & what I will bake next is high up on the most frequent thoughts in my head.

This week, chocolate chip shortbread has been at the top of my baking agenda. Costco make seriosuly delicious, seriously huge chocolate chip shortbread squares, and ever since tasting them, I have wanted to bake them.

Shortbread is one of those things that is so simple, but if you skimp on using real butter, it's nowhere near as tasty. In fact, butter is one of those pure, brilliant ingredients that transforms baking. Sure, it's more expensive than margerine, or a baking alternative, but it's better. Miss joythebaker converted me to butter years ago, and I have not turned back since.

Anyhoo, back to this shortbread. It's so simple with so few ingredients that I was sure I had everything in my cupboard. Sadly, I was all out of plain flour, but I was determined to make this shortbread happen today, so off I went to buy some.

I have fond memories of baking shortbread with my Mother, the crumbly mixture creeping up my nails, and being amazed at how deftly my mum would rub the butter into the flour & sugar. As a child, rubbing in was a funny old concept to me. I remember numerous occasions where I was convinced that if you just squished the cubes of butter between your fingers & the flour, it'd all work out ok.

Cold, clean hands & speed are of the essence, so as to keep the shortbread light & without any extra oil from lots of hand contact.

Now that I am all grown up & own a food processor, shortbread is even quicker to make, with the bonus that you don't get any mixture in your nails, and there is no chance of ending up with buttery lumps. This took 8 minutes to put together - seriously quick, right?

Chocolate Chip Shortbread adapted from original recipe here
110g / 4oz plain (all purpose) flour
55g / 2oz cornflour
55g / 2oz caster sugar
110g cold unsalted butter, diced
dash of vanilla extract
165g / 5oz chocolate chips or chunks (I used a mixture of milk & dark chocolate)

1. preheat oven to gas mark 4 / 160C
2. grease an 8" square brownie tin or 9" round tart tin
3. sift the flour & cornflour into a food processor or large bowl
4. add sugar & combine
5. add butter, cut into chunks and rub in, or blitz, depending on chosen method
6. add a dash of vanilla extract (roughly 1/4 tsp)
7. add chocolate chunks and blitz or stir to evenly distribute
8. pour mixture into prepared tin & press down
9. bake for 20 - 35mins, until ever so slightly golden around the edges. cooking time will vary depending on your oven, but the joy of shortbread is that it won't sink like a cake if you open the door, so trust your instinct & remove when you think it's ready.
10.score lines to divide shortbread into the size pieces you'd like & leave to cool.

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