The Very Best Shortbread

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By now you’ve probably heard of the Great British Baking Show (or Great British Bake Off if you’re in England).

It’s a fun, laid-back baking competition filled with beautiful bakes and some silly innuendoes. The two judges are two prominent British bakers/chefs, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

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In my opinion, Mary Berry is a British national treasure. I just love her. She’s funny and a little sassy and she and Paul Hollywood play off each other perfectly.

They’ve tried to recreate the show over here. It didn’t work. It was hard to watch.

Anyway…

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I have a book of her’s filled with 100 recipes for bakes and cakes. I was looking for a killer shortbread recipe and I stumbled upon her recipe for “The Very Best Shortbread”.

I’m always skeptical when something is called “the very best…”. But this is Mary Berry, national treasure, and she has never steered me wrong before so I made her shortbread.

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Best decision I’ve ever made.

These are perfectly buttery and have a little extra crunch because she uses a combination of flour and semolina.

Genius.

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The Very Best Shortbread:
A Mary Berry Recipe

Ingredients:
 You’ll need a 12″ x 9″ roasting pan or two 8″ x 8″ cakes pans

  • 8 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. semolina
  • 8 oz. unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 4 oz. sugar
  • 1 oz. raw sugar, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 285°F. Lightly grease your pan(s).
  2. Mix together the flour and semolina in a bowl. Add the butter and sugar and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture is just beginning to bind together. Knead lightly until the mixture forms a smooth dough.
  3. Press the dough into the prepared pans and level with the back of a spatula or a palette life, making sure the mixture is evenly spread. Prick all over with a fork and chill until firm.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a very pale golden brown. Sprinkle with the raw sugar and leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then cut into fingers. Carefully lift the fingers out of the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

 

Ginger Cookies

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Can you really call it the holiday season if the smell of ginger isn’t filling your kitchen?

Last year, I gave you a recipe for my gingerbread cookies — cookies that I bake every holiday season without fail. They’ll be making another appearance in my kitchen within the next couple of weeks without a doubt.

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I like these ginger cookies because they come out looking cracked and rustic, with a nice dusting of sugar on top. They have slightly crisp edges and are delightfully soft in the middle.

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I’ve found that a lot of ginger cookies don’t have much of a ginger taste to them. I upped the ante with these guys, including both ground ginger and chopped candied ginger. You’ll know you’re eating a ginger cookie, but the taste isn’t overwhelming.

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Ginger cookies for everyone!

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Ginger Cookies:
Makes 3 1/2 – 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup molasses (dark)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. diced candied ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Sugar, for dipping

Directions:

  1. Mix sugar, shortening, molasses and egg together in a bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, both gingers, cinnamon and salt. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls and dip the tops in sugar. Place ginger dough balls, sugar side up on a parchment lined baking sheet, a couple of inches apart. Bake until edges are set (centres will be soft), about 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Toffee Bit Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle

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A few weeks ago, I was out running errands and bought this bag of toffee bits. Because I’m weird and why not?!

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I had no plans to actually do anything with them, it was one of those “on a whim” purchases that I didn’t think through but the baker in me thought would be a good idea.

IMG_0145It was.

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These cookies are delightfully soft and chewy with a little crunch from the toffee bits and some melted chocolate drizzled on top to give a contrast to the colour of the cookies/toffee bits.

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I’m sending packages of these to my sister at college and a couple of other friends scattered around the country and I can’t wait for them to try them. There’s nothing better than getting letters or packages in the mail (except maybe surprise flowers showing up on your doorstep ;)) and when the packages include cookies, it’s a winner.

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Toffee Bit Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle:
Makes 35 large cookies (size 30 cookie scoop)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup toffee bits
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, for drizzling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream together the butter and both sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and add to batter, along with the cream of tartar and salt. Stir in the flour until just incorporated, then stir in the toffee bits.
  3. Scoop batter onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until edges are nicely browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  4. Once cookies are cool, melt the chocolate and drizzle over the cookies.

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