Monday, July 27, 2015

best shortbread . . . and an 'affogato with tea'

I celebrated my 41st birthday a few weeks ago, and thought that it would be fun to celebrate with a simple and amazing dessert inspired by one that I had at Chado's Tea Room last year when I celebrated my 40th birthday.


But first, because I couldn't imagine celebrating a birthday without chocolate, my husband surprised me with a slice of Claim Jumper's famous Chocolate Motherlode Cake. It's 6 layers of deep, dark, rich chocolate cake that's layered and frosted with chocolate ganache frosting. Amazing. Thanks, honey!

Ok, back to shortbread . . .

I'm a big fan of it! I adore this buttery, golden-colored, sweet, crumbly cookie . . . especially with a cup of tea!

I can't believe it's taken me this long to make my own shortbread! Out of curiosity, I researched shortbread recipes, and noticed that there are very simple versions . . . and then there are more complicated ones. Some call for special flours, while some don't; and some call for varying baking temperatures, while others don't. So which method is best?

Since I'm not Scottish and don't have a recipe that's 'the real deal,' I turned to my favorite (and trusted) Cook's Illustrated Cookbook for their 'best shortbread' recipe . . . and it delivered a superlative shortbread that was crisp and buttery rich. Perfection.

Although shortbread is amazing eaten all by its lonesome, I had special plans for this batch!

I thought I would recreate a memorable dessert we had at Chado's Tea Room last year . . . vanilla bean ice cream doused with hot Madagascar Vanilla Bean Tea. How can something so simple be so good!?

Often, it's simple dishes and desserts (like this one) that are the best and most memorable. 

My sister gifted me a bag of one of my favorite loose leaf teas called Velvet Tea. It's heavenly!
So I thought I would drown vanilla bean ice cream with hot Velvet Tea . . . and enjoy it with fresh, home-made short bread. What a treat! It was so good . . . and brought back happy memories from last year's birthday.

If you love affogato al caffe, then you might be interested in trying this spin off . . . affogato with tea! Just pour your favorite tea, whether it's a cup of chai, earl grey or even green tea, over vanilla ice cream. I think stronger tea works best to really add some flavor. So if you're brewing a loose leaf tea, double the amount that you would normally prepare for a stronger flavored tea.

My husband and little ones weren't interested in my Velvet Tea drowned ice cream with shortbread, so I assembled peaches & cream over shortbread for them . . . and they loved it!

The 'best shortbread' was a win WIN for everyone!

best shortbread
courtesy Cook's Illustrated
.     .     .     .     .     .
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
.     .     .     .     .     .

Preheat oven to 450 F. Place the collar of a 9-inch spring form pan upside down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (The groove of the collar should be at the top.)

Pulse the oats in a mini prep or food processor until reduced to fine powder, about ten 5-second pulses. In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix ground oats, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the butter to the mixer and continue to mix on low speed until dough just forms and pulls away from sides of bowl, 5 to 10 minutes.

Press the dough into the spring form collar in an even 1/2-inch-thick layer, smoothing top of dough with back of spoon. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut a hole in the center of the dough. Place the round alongside spring form collar on baking sheet and place the biscuit cutter back into the hole in the center of the dough. Open the spring form collar all the way, but leave it in place around the dough.

Bake the shortbread 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 F. Continue to bake the shortbread until the edges turn pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove baking sheet from oven and turn off oven. Remove the biscuit cutter and spring form pan collar; use a chef’s knife to score surface of shortbread into 16 even wedges, cutting halfway through shortbread. Using a wooden skewer, poke 8 to 10 holes in each wedge. Return the shortbread to the oven and prop door open with handle of wooden spoon. Allow the shortbread to dry in turned-off oven until pale golden in center, about 1 hour.
Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool the shortbread to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut shortbread at scored marks to separate.

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  1. Yum! What a delicious looking birthday treat. Though I would certainly take the chocolate cake as well! And the peaches and ice cream... hmm. One of each wouldn't be too much, would it?

  2. Yum, yum. Love shortbread. I want to try this recipe.

    That chocolate cake looks divine! I am coming over from A Stroll Thru Life's Inspire Me Tuesday!

  3. I have gone pin happy!! I've never made shortbread and your shortbread + photos look amazing. And by the way, Buon Compleanno, mia amica!! I wish I would have known it was your birthday -- I could have sent you some virtual chocolate!! What a wonderful hubby to surprise you with chocolate cake -- YUM!! Well, have a wonderful rest of the week. Big Hugs!!

  4. Happy birthday Suzanne! I hope you had a great time with your family. That chocolate cake looks incredible, and so does the simple shortbread! Love your sparkler too! Have a good week making the most of summer with your littles :)

  5. Happy belated birthday. What a lovely treat to celebrate. I hope you got your birthday wish my friend. hugs!

  6. I've never made shortbread either, but I love it. This looks delicious.
    Happy belated birthday! You're only one year ahead of me. I hit the big 4-0 before the year's over.

  7. Your pics are beautiful! Pinned!

  8. Happy belated Birthday! That chocolate cakes looks ah-maze-ing! The shortcake though, yum. I'm going to whip some up this weekend I think. Thanks for sharing on Weekend Bites

  9. Happy belated birthday. My husband's family is from Scotland and they love a good shortbread. Pinning this to try. It looks fantastic!

  10. That looks perfect! Thanks for joining Home Sweet Home!

  11. I'm a huge shortbread fan and holy smokes, does yours look wonderful!


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