It’s pretty much a given that when I bake, I will bake basic shortbread, which my friend Esteban always says is “full of win”. (One of our other former colleagues – from Poland perhaps – was confused when Esteban said this, “Full of win?” as if “win” were an essential ingredient rather than a descriptor.) A few current colleagues also go for the shortbread first – it’s plain and not too sweet, making it a perfect complement for the first cup of the coffee in the morning. Not too heavy or sweet for eating first thing (unlike quite a lot of the other baked goods). My big Christmas bake was no exception – three rounds of plain shortbread were part of the big Christmas spread.
Shortbread – for the win
However, I decided to try for the second time ever a recipe for honey almond shortbread. My first try turned out far too brittle so kind of broke into pieces when I tried to cut it. Unlike the regular shortbread, which stays a very light color when baked, the honey-almond version browns quickly and, because of the ingredients inside, does much more easily become dry, brittle and hard to cut into decent pieces – although it was much easier to cut this time than in my past effort. (I knew from experience to keep a close eye on it as it baked!)
Honey almond shortbread
1 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped almonds (or other desired nut)
Dark chocolate to melt and drizzle on top (or dip the cookie in)
Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Grease round cake pans.
Beat butter, honey and vanilla together. Add the flour. Mix. Stir nuts in by hand.
Press dough into prepared pans. Score with a knife.
Bake about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on a rack before removing. Cool completely and then cut according to the pre-scored lines. Melt the chocolate and either dip the ends of the shortbread in the chocolate. Or place the wedges on a parchment sheet and drizzle chocolate on the pieces (you can then sprinkle them with more nuts or sprinkles or other such stuff). Put in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to let the chocolate set.
(This time I did not drizzle chocolate on top. My second try did work out somewhat better than the first.)
I started off today in the office exchanging messages on Facebook with a colleague who was on a bus – it was unintentionally stalker-like to see her progress as her public transport made its way to different parts of the city, and I could track her, thinking, “Oh, she must have stopped responding because she is walking up the path to the office now…”. In any case, our conversation started the day off on the right foot because it sparked laughter. And, as Robyn Hitchcock sings, “Nothing clings to you like laughter…“. Too true.
I also noted that the 24 kinds of baked goods that I brought to the office yesterday – the logistical nightmare that that was – has been reduced and fits nicely on two long tables instead of three. Progress!
Christmas 2013 spread – three full tables
The final list of stuff baked and brought along with links to recipes (where they exist – some I was making for the first time so will post in new posts in the coming days)…
CHRISTMAS M&M COOKIES (I know this links to a white chocolate macadamia cookie recipe, but I have been using it for M&M cookies for a while – prefer it to the one I used to use. Just eliminate the macadamia and white chocolate and put M&Ms in instead!)