Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Texan's Shortbread

First, just because it was beautiful and delicious:

All weddings should have towers of cupcakes, don't you think?

That's a champagne buttercream frosting with strawberries right there. 

Our cutting cake was cinnamon-chocolate cake with spicy chocolate ganache and Kahlua buttercream. I KNOW.

One of my favorites is this one: Guinness-chocolate cupcakes with Bailey's buttercream. Fine, they're all my favorite.

Wedding photos by Sweet Poppy Studios.

Our wedding was so much fun! We decided to have a brunch reception, and just happened to pick a gorgeous June day for it. Many people pitched in to make it great, including three people who loaned us cake stands to hold our seven zillion cupcakes.

In the months after our wedding, our conversations about food have started to change. Sure, we got some cookbooks as gifts and have found several new favorite recipes, and we are usually eating meatless twice a week instead of just once, but there's been another kind of change, too. The Texan, who literally didn't know how to hold a knife properly and has been known to take 15 minutes to cut up an avocado, took a knife skills class. So now dinner prep goes like this:

Me: Could you please cut up that bell pepper?
Texan: Do you want that diced or julienned?

And weekends sound like this:

T: What do you want to do this weekend?
Me: I dunno. Swimming, maybe. What do you want to do?
T: I feel like making shortbread.

Just this weekend, I come home from an out-of-town conference, and the next day happens to be my birthday. I walk in the house and smell fresh-baked brownies, which later get served to me with a side of lemon sorbet.

Me: You made brownies? For me? Wow.
T: Yep. With pecans on top. How do you like the sorbet?
Me: It's good. Where'd you buy it?
T: I made it.
Me: Seriously?
T: I squeezed the lemons by hand. It took forever! Guess what else is in it? Here, I'll just tell you. I added some of that tea you like. Plus a splash of bourbon.


Whoever he is, I decided to take him up on his yen for shortbread. A long-term substitute teacher at my school, who also happens to be a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind, had come to the end of her assignment, and we wanted to throw her a mini party to say thanks for all her hard work. She has dog-themed everything: shirts, earrings, sweaters, socks, quilts, placemats, you name it. And she is raising her 19th puppy, who came to school each day, for Guide Dogs. So what better theme to use than Bone Voyage?

I didn't think of this theme on my own. I've been to one other Bone Voyage party, so I knew shortbread shaped to look like dog biscuit would be the perfect treat. There was a straightforward recipe on the back of the bag of flour, so the Texan jumped right in. My only contribution was blitzing some nuts for half the dough. The rest was all him.

Dog bones. In a jar. Get it?

And when he was done, he cut the fondant bones for my cupcakes. 

Coworkers specifically stopped me and told me how much they liked the shortbread bones. Not just the cuteness, but the actual shortbread. It was really simple, but really good. Possibly even the best ever.

And I have to agree with them.

The Texan's Brown Sugar Shortbread
adapted from our bag of Natural Directions organic AP flour

1 C butter, softened
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 C AP flour
1/3 C finely chopped nuts, such as pecans or almonds (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cream butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until fluffy. 
3. Add salt, flour, and nuts if using, and mix well.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into 1/2" thick rectangle.
5. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter, or cut into rectangles 
   1.5" x 2.5"
6. Place cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats. Prick with fork.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack.