Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Christmas Cookies in January...

Just the other day, I finished the last of my chocolate espresso cookies from Martha's recipe. (Yes, THE Martha. What, you aren't on first name basis with her? Sure you are.)...And I've been thinking...I should make more.

The hands-down hit of this season, hits of the season were brown butter shortbreads and salted caramels.

First the shortbreads.

I have an old book filled with my handwriting and stains from many and sundry kitchen sessions. A few pages are devoted to a Christmas cookie baking session with Marcie Barker, sous chef and wife to Chef Ali Barker, who opened Union Square Cafe way back in the day. We made a ton of cookies that sessin and tried...three times, if I recall correctly, to make a brown butter shortbread. Brown butter is so delicious, right? Nutty AND buttery. The best.

But we also failed three times. The shortbreads just wouldn't hold together. Well, I think that cookie baking session was about 22 years ago. I had no kids, so it's at least 22 years ago (ahem). But I've never forgotten those attempts and always wanted to try again.

This year I did. I found a recipe that has  you push the brown butter dough into a tart pan, which is brilliant, because it's just too delicate to hold its own as it bakes. Then you release it and cut it into wedges and give it a second light baking.

Cookie crack, as one neighbor called these cookies just last night. He made me want more. These cookies pretty much melt in your mouth. I said to that same neighbor: butter and sugar held together by a touch of flour. That's pretty much it. (See those crumbs in the photo above? I ate those, too.)

The recipe I found is from Blue Ridge Baker. She's pretty genius. Thank you for this, Sarah, you Blue Ridge woman...(And she's started a new blog for our new year, Prairie Table. Follow her food fun there.)

Hm. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will tell you about salted caramels and the lessons I've learned from them.

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