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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shortbread Biscuits


Ain't no party like a tea party, 'cause at a tea party the biscuity fun don't stop. Am I right, or am I right? Erm ... yeah. Having a good shortbread biscuit recipe in your back pocket is like having an extra twenty dollars hidden in a random compartment of your wallet; it just makes good sense. 

People just seem to generally love shortbread. I'm sure there are those people out there who just don't want anything to do with it, but I've yet to encounter them. If they do exist, I imagine they all live together in a special little community nestled in the rolling hills of nondescript countryside. Shortbread is outlawed. Outsiders need not apply. I have a wee bit of an over active imagination ... if you can't tell.

I like to think of shortbread as the "fancy" tea time biscuit, though I'm not sure why. Maybe because when I was a child it seemed like all the "grown-ups" in my life ate (read: loved) shortbread. Especially my grandmothers and the other old ladies in my life. In my world, shortbread became synonymous with things classy ladies ate, while doing horrible grownup things like playing canasta or bridge.


So the next time you're hosting a tea (or a real rowdy card game) don't forget to make a batch of these lovely, crisp cookies and wow your guests.

Side note: shortbread is supposed to be crisp. Crisp, I say! I recently had a soft "shortbread" cookie - and trust me, the quotes are needed because ... it wasn't really shortbread, it was something masquerading as shortbread.


Shortbread Biscuits

Ingredients:

4 ounces butter, room temperature
2 ounces sugar
6 ounces flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Mix in flour until a ball of dough forms.

Pop in the fridge for a bit, maybe ten minutes (I found that it helped if the dough was a bit cooler when it came to rolling it out).

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it's about 1/2 inch thick. From here I cut mine into rectangles, but you can make circles or squares ... basically whatever your favorite shape is, go for it.

Put biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  Sprinkle cookies with a bit of sugar (I also use a fork and poke holes in the center of the rectangle).

Let chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes (I have found that 16-18 minutes seems to be my sweet spot for my oven).

Let cool on cookie sheet for five minutes, remove and completely cool on wire rack.

Store in container with tight fitting lid.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

No Churn Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Ice Cream


Making ice cream can be one of the most frustratingly awesome cooking experiences of your life. It all boils down the chemistry. I can hear you all now - but Carin, all cooking is chemistry. Eh. Not sure I agree. Cooking is all about gestures; some are dramatic, some are delicate. Baking, however, is ALL about the chemistry. Everything has to be measured and weighed. Baking is precise. You can't just through a bunch of stuff in a pot and expect it to bake properly (and if you can ... cool superpower).

I've always viewed making ice cream (and by ice cream I mean custard ice cream) as an extension of baking; it's a science. There's no way to wing your way through a custard recipe. You have to follow it. It has to be exact. Then there's the whole "how long should it churn" and finding the perfect ice to salt ratio to ensure the correct amount of melt. I mean ... making ice cream is a PAIN. There is a reason high school chemistry classes make ice cream: it's SCIENCE!

Until now. If you've got a mixer and ten minutes, you can make ice cream; you can throw the long division, and formula writing out the window. Unless you're still in school ... then please keep the formula writing (but long division is still rubbish).


This no churn ice cream gets it's light and fluffy ice cream quality because you whip it (whip it good ... *giggle*) in the mixer. I think the best part about this whole dessert is you can mix it together before you go to work in the morning and then that night dish out some of the most delicious ice cream ever. 

Isn't there something utterly decadent about dark chocolate and espresso mixed together? And when the two are combined into an ice cream something luscious happens. Odd fact about yours truly: for the most part I eat coffee ice cream in the middle of winter (but obviously not all the time); there's something magical about being wrapped up in a blanket, cuddled on the couch with a fire going while eating something that is so wonderfully chilly. 


No Churn Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Ice Cream
Modified from Nigella

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups heavy cream
⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons Kahlua (or espresso liqueur)
2 - 3 ounces dark chocolate finely chopped

Directions:

Whisk the heavy cream, condensed milk, espresso powder and Kahlua together in a mixer until soft peaks form.

Spoon into your container of choice (I used a Tovolo Glide-A-Scoop container) - you'll need to make sure it can hold a pint - and using a rubber spatula fold in 3/4 of the chocolate chunks. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 over the top of the ice cream.

Freeze for at least 6 hours (or over night). Serve straight from the freezer. *Note: the ice cream should be okay in the freezer for up to two weeks.