Shortbreads

shortbreads-11Shortbreads are one of those cookies that don’t seem like much, but are just delicious. My husband loves them (and my in-laws always have a box stashed somewhere), so I occasionally buy them. The other day I was thinking that I really ought to bake some.

I think I a long time ago made some pecan ones, and there are plenty of recipes around with a lot of recipes around for all sort of different flavors. I wanted to make a basic one, where the main flavor comes from the butter and vanilla.

I have this little book called Miss Jensens Five O’Clock Tea. I got it quite a while ago, but I never made any recipes from it. It is a republish of 1902 recipe collection. Miss Jensen was a famous Danish cook (and head of household) and authored a number of cookbooks for ‘the modern house-wife’. According to the foreword this was a collection of cheap and easy cakes, breads and cookies, useful in the many households where the family gathers for tea before or after dinner. The recipes from this book were primarily ones she gathered when she visited England.

This book obviously contains a recipe for shortbreads – and I don’t know about cheap given it called for a real vanilla pod and (of course) a lot of butter – but I guess that in 1902 there weren’t any cheaper fats available.

Most recipes include butter, flour sugar and vanilla, but this one included an egg too, which I found interesting. I was a bit worried to try out a recipe from 1902 – I doubt the butter has the same amount of water content and salt today as it did then, on top of the differences between European and US style butter. I worked out great though!

Since the butter is one of the main flavoring components of this cookie, using higher quality butter would probably make them taste even better, but I just used Safeway brand Organic butter.

Ingredients: (Original recipe from Frk. Jensen’s Five O’clock Tea)

  • 500 g all-purpose flour (17.6 oz)
  • 250 g butter (8.8 oz )
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
  • 150 g sugar (5.2 oz)
  • 1 egg

Method:

1. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds.

2. Mix the flour, baking powder and vanilla seeds in a bowl.

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3. Add the butter and squeeze the butter into the flour mixture with your hands.

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4. Add the sugar and the egg and mix until a dough forms. Be patient here, it is very crumbly. However, if it needs a little more moisture, I found it useful to wet my hands and keep going – you don’t want to add too much water.

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5. Split the dough in 2 and form it into squares. Let them cool in you refrigerator for 30-60 min.

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6. Preheat your oven to 175-190 C/ 350-370 F, and line some cookie sheets with parchment paper.

7. Take one square out of the refrigerator and roll out to about 1/2 cm thick . Try to make it as square as possible (to minimize waste).

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8. Prick the surface with a fork, and cut out rectangles in the size you desire. I found it useful to use a ruler for this.

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9. Place shortbreads on the prepared sheets. You can place them very close together, as they don’t spread.

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10. Bake for 12-17 min, until golden brown. You have to keep an eye on them, the time will vary with oven.

11. Let cool on a wire rack. Repeat if you could not fit them all in the oven at once.

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I thought the recipe was very successful, and very delicious. Such a simple cookie, and always perfect with tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

 

Walnut Cookies

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These cookies are actually Christmas cookies, but they are good at any time. The recipe is from an old Christmas cookie flyer from a brand of flour in Denmark (Amo), probably from the late 70’s. They are crisp and buttery and very ‘more-ish’.

Ingredients:

  • 400 g flour (14.1 oz)
  • 300 g butter (cold) (10.5 oz)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 50-75 g coarsely chopped walnuts (1.8-2.6 oz)
  • Raw sugar for decoration

Method:

1. Mix all the ingredients, except walnuts, to a rough dough. Use your fingers to squeeze the butter into the other ingredients.

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2. Add the walnuts and mix well.

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3. Divide the dough into 6 parts, and roll out to rolls, approximately 20 cm / 8 inches in length. The rolls should be about 2.5 cm / 1 inch in diameter.

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4. Roll each roll in raw sugar – if you don’t have that caster sugar will work too.

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5. Wrap the rolls in plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for about an hour or more. You can also freeze them and make them later.

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6. Preheat the oven to 220 C / 428 F.

7. Once the rolls are set, take one out at a time and slice into fairly thin cookies, about 0.5 cm / 0.2 inches thick each. There should be about 25 cookies per roll. Keep turning the roll as you cut, so they stay round.

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8. Place the cookies on parchment sheets. They don’t expand much, so you can put them fairly close to each other.

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9. Bake for about 8 min until golden brown at the edges.

10. Cool the cookies on a rack and repeat with the remaining sheets.

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Simply and very yummy. The original recipe calls for butter or margarine, but the butter taste is really prominent, I don’t think they would taste as well without it.

Crisp Marzipan Chocolate Cookies

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When I was growing up, my mom baked lots of different Christmas cookies, usually 10-16 different kinds. I try to bake some different cookies in December, but I usually don’t end up with that many.

This cookie is very tasty due to the marzipan and the use of dark brown sugar. The recipe was from the weekly advertisement from a Danish supermarket where I clipped it years ago. It is not meant to be a Christmas cookie, but I think it has a very Christmassy feel to it.

The portion is not that big (34-40 cookies or so), feel free to double it.

Ingredients: (original recipe clipped from Super Brugsen advertisement)

  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 100 g dark brown sugar
  • 300 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 100 g marzipan/almond paste
  • 100 g dark chocolate chips

Method:

1. Cut the marzipan into small pieces (1 cm / 1/3 inch)

2. Mix butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer.

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3. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla sugar or extract.

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4. Mix in the egg to a dough forms.

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5. Use your hands to mix in the chocolate and marzipan pieces.

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6. Roll out the dough to 2 rolls, each about 20 cm / 8 inches long.

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7. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

8. Prepare 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper (or you can switch after each bake). Preheat oven to 200 C/ 392 F

9. Cut each roll into cookies, about 1 cm  / 1/3 inch thick and place on the sheets.

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10. Bake for about 15 min, until golden brown at the edges. The marzipan will brown too.

11. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack.

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As the title says, these are supposed to be crisp, not chewy at all. I think they are really tasty, and they get eaten really fast in our house.

Awesome Nutella cookies

I love Nutella. For some reason growing up my family never brought it in Denmark, but whenever we was on vacation in Germany – it must have been cheaper there. It was a special treat, usually reserved for weekend breakfasts.

Of course, as an adult, I can eat it whenever I want, but despite their commercials trying to tell you otherwise, I don’t think it is particularly healthy. But oh, so good.

I definitely want to try and make my own hazelnut-chocolate spread, like the recipe on this great blog, but for for turning it into cookies the commercial stuff works just fine.

Ever since I saw this recipe for Nutella cookies on Simplyrecipes.com, I have been wanting to try them. This Sunday we went to a potluck party, so I decided to bring them.

They turned out really well, and were pretty easy to make. The fact that you add cocoa powder as well as the Nutella make it a very rich cookie, which in my opinion is a good thing.

I did end up using roasted hazelnuts, as those were the only I could get – I find it very hard to get hazelnuts here, my local Safeway only carries tiny little bags. Luckily a local Indian grocer has big bags of delicious roasted ones. They work fine with the recipe, as I am sure fresh ones would.

Also note that 1 cup of Nutella is about 330g, I prefer weighing something that dense to measuring as it is was hard to get it in and out of the cup measurer.

I baked them for 12 minutes, and they turned out a little chewy for me, I could probably have given them a minute longer for a little more crisp.

Yum!