by Stephanie Zonis
4-1/2 to 5 dozen cookies
Looking for a little something to have with tea or coffee? I can't think of a better choice than these cookies. Crisp and dry, with some texture from the almonds and oats, piquancy from the ginger, and a "hit" of chocolate flavor into the bargain, these shortbreads are ideal make-ahead cookies. If stored airtight, they'll keep nicely for at least a week, at cool room temperature, and the flavors seem to blend better after they've aged for a few days. They also freeze well, and a tin of these would make a nice gift.
The dough for these is quite stiff, and they are shaped by rolling. After shaping, they must chill for at least 4 hours before baking. In baking these, I have found that the thicker the cookie sheet, the less the cookies spread (that is, they hold their shape better). However, the main thing here is to watch the browning; the bottoms of the cookies should brown only slightly. You'll need a food processor fitted with a steel blade to grind the oats and almonds. Also, the temperature of the butter is important; it should be at about room temperature. If it is too soft, the dough will be difficult to handle and the cookies will lose their shape when baked.
1 cup whole unblanched (skin on) almonds
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
Few grains salt
1-1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil, shiny side up. In food processor fitted with steel blade, "pulse" almonds and oats on-and-off until both are finely ground.
In large bowl, with large spoon, cream butter, sugar, and salt until well-mixed and fluffy. Add ground almond-oat mixture and stir in. Add flour and ginger and mix in well (this will take a minute or two). Finally, stir in chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Dough should be quite stiff but workable.
Roll slightly rounded teaspoonfuls (not a measuring teaspoon) of the dough into narrow "fingers" that are three inches long. The "twigs" should be the same thickness through their entire length (or as close to that as possible). Handle the dough as little as you can. Place each formed "finger" onto a foil-lined cookie sheet (I place 16, in 2 rows of 8, on each 15-1/2 by 10-1/2 inch sheet). When a sheet is filled, cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator. (If you have more "fingers" than you do available space on cookie sheets, you can place them in a foil-lined baking pan, with wax paper or plastic wrap between the layers. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until your cookie sheets are freed up again). Chill the "fingers" at least 4 hours (longer is OK).
Fifteen minutes before you want to bake, adjust rack to center of oven. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. When oven is preheated, remove plastic wrap from one filled cookie sheet and place it into the oven. Bake the shortbreads for 20 to 25 minutes, switching the sheet back-to-front about halfway during baking time. The "fingers" will spread somewhat during baking. The shortbreads are done when the edges are lightly browned; watch them carefully.
Remove from oven; allow to stand for a minute or so on cookie sheets before removing carefully to cooling rack. The hot shortbreads are quite fragile; they'll be soft now but should become crisp as they cool. The bottoms of the shortbreads should be only lightly browned. These cookies tend to bake up with ragged edges; if you want to get rid of those edges, wait until the cookies are almost cooled, then, one at a time, pick each cookie up and gently run a fingertip two or three times along the edges of the cookie.
Cool completely before storing airtight. The flavor of the shortbreads improves with several days of aging.
Copyright © 2000 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created September 2000
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