I hadn't made shortbread in quite a while, and I quickly remembered why. Shortbread is a pain. A major pain. A pain in the a$$ if you will. I always fall for the buttery texture, the light crumbly feel on your tongue, the fall-apart in your mouth loveliness, delicious. Unfortunately, the dough also falls apart, constantly. When you shape it, when you roll it, when you bake it. Nightmare. Double nightmare when you drank too much the night before at the local dive bar....
Alas, despite my pounding head, I had an anniversary party to bake for. My Boyfriend's lovely Aunt Marie (perhaps the only person who reads my blog, love you!!!) was celebrating 25 years with her hubby, so cookies were definitely in order. I decided to go with a macadamia nut, pineapple shortbread recipe I'd been eyeing for a while.
2 1/4 cups four
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, cold
1 cup butter, cold
1/4 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 cup finely chopped dried pineapple
1 cup powdered sugar
1/54 tsp vanilla
3-4 tablespoons pineapple juice
food coloring (optional)
First, stir together the flour and sugar. If I make these (or any other shortbread) again I would use granulated sugar and forgo the brown sugar, as it was really hard to blend with the flour evenly.
The next step is to cut in the butter. I use a pastry blender (best 5$ I ever spent) but you can also cut in butter by criss-crossing 2 knives. Either way, I usually pre-chop the sticks of butter first to make things a bit easier.
Cut in the butter until the chunks are the size of small peas. occasionally stir the mixture to make sure that all the flour is being moistened with the butter.
After the shortbread mixture is ready to go, whip out your food processor. (This was the maiden voyage for mine, woohoo new kitchen tools!!!) Chop up your macadamias to a very fine chop.
Next, chop up your pineapple. I tried this in the food processor and it failed miserably. My dried pineapple was much too moist....
So I opted for doing it the old fashioned way, which worked out fine.
Mix together your macadamias and pineapple with the flour/butter mixture. I would recommend actually upping the pineapple content more the 1/4 cup as they kind of got lost in the batter. Once you have everything equally blended, start to knead the dough together.
I actually ended up adding a few tablespoons of water to the dough to help bring it together (just like you would a pie crust or pastry). In retrospect, I should have added more water, ah well, you live, you learn. Form the dough into two balls, pressing the dough together as tightly as possible...
This is the part where shortbread becomes a major Pain in the A$$ as I mentioned earlier. When you go to roll it, it tends to break apart into a million miserable crumbly pieces. ugh. I think adding more liquid during the kneading process could have helped alleviate this issue. Anyway, patiently and carefully roll your dough out to 1/4 inch thick. I attempted to press the crumbly edges back into the dough between rolls....
But this what I got, over and over again.
Since my dough wasn't exactly cooperating, I decided not to use cookie cutter, and instead just cut the dough into squares. I did this to avoid having to re-roll the dough over and over again. I think if you used cookie cutters with the recipe, you'd probably only end up with about 20 cookies, and a pile of crumbs.
Bake at 325 for 15 minutes. Transfer (carefully!) to a wire rack and let cool completely. While cookies are cooling, make your icing.
Measure out one cup of powdered sugar, add the vanilla, then whisk in the pineapple juice one tablespoon at a time. Add food coloring until you get your desired shade. I found this icing to be very bland. I think I may try it with pineapple concentrate next time, just to kick up the flavor a bit. Using a pastry bag, or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off, pipe the frosting in your desired design over the cookies. At this point, I was needing a nap, so I just went with a quick squiggle.