Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chocolate-Dipped Maple Shortbreads

Just to see what would happen, I googled "Christmas Cookies" on Images.  Not that far down were these from Reader's Digest, of all places.

"Shortbread" refers to keeping the gluten strands short, generally with fat.  That is what "shortening" means in the food product.  It's why cookies and cakes are crumbly, while you have to tear a low-fat bread.

This particular recipe doesn't have an egg, which many shortbreads don't.  What that meant in this case was that I didn't have to make as many as the 6 dozen the recipe estimates.  I did some quick math and knocked out a quarter batch on a single sheet.  I still somehow came up with two dozen.  I swear, I even used a measuring tape to get the dimensions of the logs right.
The recipe was not without its flaws.  I had to knead in much more flour than I should have to get the logs to hold their shape, and they still spread out a lot in the oven.  And I knew there was too much milk in the ganache, but followed the instructions anyway.  It never really firmed up, not even the leftovers I put in the fridge to use for coffee and hot chocolate the next day.  I'm going to fix those problems here.

As you can see from the photo, I didn't limit myself to crushed walnuts for the decorations.  I pulverized a ginger snap (left over from the pie) and did some with coconut (other pie).  The cookie itself is neutral, so anything that works with chocolate is fair game.

This does make a crazy lot if you use the dimensions they give for a single-bite cookie, so I'm posting a half-sized batch.

1/4 C unsalted butter
1/4 C shortening
1/4 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple syrup
1 C flour
1/2 C quick oats
1/4 tsp salt

1/3 C semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tb milk

1.  Cream together butter and shortening.  Add powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add vanilla and maple syrup and beat again.

2.  Separately, combine flour, oatmeal, and salt.  Beat into creamed mixture to make a thick paste.  Wrap in wax paper and chill half an hour.

3.  Preheat oven to 325º.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into 1/2" thick logs.  Cut 2" lengths and place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden.  Allow to cool 5 minutes on the sheet, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
4.  Microwave chips and milk on half power at 30 second increments, stirring well each time, until smooth.  Arrange toppings, which can include crushed nuts, crushed cookies, coconut flakes, or sprinkles.  Dip half of each cookie in chocolate ganache, then either dip in toppings or sprinkle on top.  Place wet cookies on wax paper to firm up before plating or boxing to give away.

Makes about 4 dozen

Difficulty rating  π

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