What do Genghis Khan and Gandhi have in common? How about Danny Devito and Pablo Picasso?
Oooh, ooh, what about me, and the Marquis de Sade? I bet you are just dying to know, right? Well...
It's all about the short. All of the folks I mentioned are 5'4" or shorter. Did you have any idea that the leader of the Mongolian Empire was just 5' 1"? Looks like peace is the way to go, as the Mahatma was an impressive 5'3". Oddly enough, Ben Kingsley, who played Ghandi in the movie, is a heroic 5' 8".
I'm sure by now, many of you are groaning at my short attempt at a joke. Short folks, short bread, get it? *sigh*. Okay, I promise to leave the humor to Mr. Devito, all 4'11" of him. Yes, I'll be the bigger person. *ouch!* Hey, who threw that!
Don't get me wrong, I am in no way making fun of those of us who are vertically challenged. I've struggled with this my whole life and now I accept that I will never see the top of my fridge without the aid of a step stool. Bonus points for me, I say. If I can't see it, I don't dust it.
OK, I hear you. Back to the Chocolate Shortbread. Shortbread doesn't have anything to do with the height of the cookies. The "short" refers to the short texture, meaning sandy and break-apart as opposed to flaky or chewy. A pie crust uses cold butter to create flakes of dough, while shortbread uses warm, soft butter to coat the flour with fat to prevent long strands of gluten from forming. Thus, short strands = crisp, "short" texture.
Place in your mixing bowl:
16 tablespoons (227g) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt, extra-fine if possible
1 cup (198g) sugar
1/3 cup (28g) Double Dutch Dark Cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups (206g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
Stir until you have a soft, cohesive dough. It's rather like making brownies, just a little thicker and a lot more buttery.
Suspense master Alfred Hitchcock was 5'5", but his movies definitely rate a "10."
Divide the dough into two equal portions. Press each half the dough into an 8" square baking pan. I usually line mine with parchment but forgot this time. The buttery dough doesn't tend to stick, but insurance is never a bad thing.
You'll see as you go along that the dough, while quite moist, doesn't really stick to your fingers. All that butter is a great lubricant.
There, all filled in. You can use a piece of plastic wrap over the top and roll gently with a pastry roller as well to avoid fingermarks.
Monkee Davy Jones stood 5'3", but his smile was 1000 watts!
But wait! What about the nuts? Sure, you can add up to 1/2 cup of nuts, chips, bits, etc.
Walnut chocolate chip shortbread, perhaps?
We can call him Al, but by any name, singer Paul Simon rocks the house at 5'2".
Bake until the shortbread begins to pull away from the edges of the pan, and the center feels firm under your fingers when lightly pressed. As test baker Frank told me, it's hard to toothpick-test shortbread because it's so thin, so going by feel is a great option.
Now, here's a biggie. You MUST turn the shortbread out for cutting while it's still warm. Crisp cooled shortbread will shatter and break, so warm it must be.
A pizza cutter makes quick work of trimming off the edges and dividing into squares...
Or little triangles. The different shapes also help tasters tell the difference between the flavors.
André René Roussimoff, beloved actor and wrestler André the Giant, stood 7'5" tall. Pour yourself a giant glass of milk to enjoy with your fresh-baked treats.
Pure buttery goodness. As the shortbread cools, it will develop that perfect sandy crispness that keeps us coming back for bite after bite. That is, of course, if any pieces survive to cool off. This meltingly good piece certainly didn't!
Hey, while you're here at the end of the post, why not leave me a short comment? Har, har, har. Thanks folks, I'll be here til Thursday! Remember to tip your waitress.
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