Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Christmas Cookies in January...
The hands-down hit of this season ...no, 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.