Sunday, January 3, 2010

macadamia nut shortbread - a drinking glass saved the day

macadamia nut shortbread - 25The best part about baking for new people (my parents, for example) is that I get the opportunity to try new recipes. I usually only bake for my boyfriend, so my recipe options are pretty limited (basically only to white chocolate chip cookies). I'm glad that my mom loves shortbread, because I've been dying to make it myself. Actually, I have made shortbread before, which was for the base of my homemade Girl Scout Samoas (and actually the shortbread was the best part of the whole cookie). I also found a huge tin of macadamia nuts in the pantry (which I have been snacking on by the handfulls about 10 times a day) and I needed to make them disappear (preferably not by me eating them all).

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Shortbread is actually such a simple recipe- it's really only butter, flour, and sugar. The sugar here is a confectioner's suger, which is generally not normally used, although I have actually seen it in other shortbread recipes.

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I really need to invest in a food processor when I get back home. My mac nuts were chopped in seconds flat, whereas if I did it the old fashioned way, it'd take me at least 5 minutes and there'd be tiny pieces scattered across the counter and on the ground.

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After mixing everything together, I dumped the dough on the counter to roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Well guess what... It didn't want to cooperate. It was too dry and crumbly, and no matter how hard I tried, it wouldn't form into a single ball.

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I ended up dumping the crumbly mixture on to my plastic wrap and just wrapping it up as tight as possible. The following day I took the log-shaped dough out of the fridge and was surprised to see that it had partially stuck together.

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I was so excited that I would be able to cut slices and make cute little round shortbread cookies. As you can see here, this was obviously not the case. The dough was still crumbly and fell apart apart immediately.

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Time to improvise. I was only able to cut about 10 perfectly intact cookies, and so I had to find something else to do with the crumbled remaining dough. I lined a baking pan with foil and dumped the crumbs in and patted them down with my hands. It wasn't as packed as I would have liked, so I began searching the kitchen for my new weapon of choice. I grabbed a drinking glass from the cupboard and used the flat bottom to firmly press the dough in. Interestingly enough, it packed the dough so tightly that you never would have known that this mixture was once a big pile of crumbs.

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These were my (somewhat) perfect shortbread rounds.

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And these are them after baking. They look pretty good I must say, although slightly more browned than I would have liked.

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I have to say... I'm pretty proud of myself. Too bad there were only a handfull of the round cookies.

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Once the pan with the glass-pounded crumbs was baked and cooled, I cut them into small rectangles.

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In my opinion the rectangle cookies tasted better than the round ones, probably because they were thicker and weren't as crisp.

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My mom on the other hand prefered the round ones because they were crispier. Go figure.

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Either way, both cookies came out a success in my book. The macadamia nuts were also the best accompaniment for the shortbread and gave the perfect crunch for the cookie. All I can say is, thank goodness for that drinking glass.

Taken from Kauai Menu. (How fitting I found a recipe from a Hawaiian website. Not to mention I even used Hawaiian Macadamia Nuts, lol).

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

1. In large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla together. Slowly stir in flour until well blended. Add coarsely chopped macadamia nuts. On waxed paper shape cookie dough into a roll approximately two inches in diameter (harder than it seems). Roll waxed paper around dough then wrap the roll in aluminum foil. Place in refrigerator, chilling at least 2 hours or more.
2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Remove chilled cookie dough and cut roll into slices between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until they turn golden brown around the edges (the circles were done at around 18 minutes, while the rectangles took at least 25 minutes or more).

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