Grant's birthday was this weekend and he had one request...shortbread cookies.
For me, shortbread cookies are magical. You have to understand that my only knowledge of shortbread cookies for most of my life was contained in a shiny blue Royal Dansk tin. I thought shortbread was some sort of amazingly sweet and salty, buttery, melty cookie-thing that only wizards could make. And after this experiment I want to testify that only wizards can make shortbread cookies look pretty...so I was at least always partially right.
Grant went in search of a recipe he liked and this lead to his discovery and consequent love of Pintrest. Myself, I am not a Pintrest user, I already spend too much time screwing around on Facebook and checking my e-mail...I don't need another internet 'thing' to keep me distracted. But it was on Pintrest that Grant found a recipe for Lemon Shortbread Cookies that who else but the greatest wizard of them all and her team of lesser magicians had created?
Martha's shortbread looked beautiful. The little cookies were delicate, garnished and decorated, and I knew I could make them if Martha told me how.
Bullshit. Don't be fooled, Martha Stewart is a cooking and crafting demon put on this earth to torture us wanna-be domestic goddesses.
To be fair and despite my bitchin', this is a quick and simple recipe that will have you nibbling delicious treats in no time, but here are some of the snafus I experienced as well as my alterations to the recipe.
1) MS's recipe has no shortening in it. Not only does this go against EVERY recipe for shortbread I have ever heard of, plus an old (read: racist) children's song that I grew up with, but it also made the dough difficult to work with. It kept breaking apart when I tried to mold it.
2) Because the dough kept crumbling apart like my culinary confidence, I ended up taking a small handful and patting it together with my hands into a disc shape before placing it on my baking sheet. This worked just fine.
3) Another variation in the method I improvised was the addition of a splash of lemon juice and an equal amount of orange zest to lemon.
4) Do make sure that you rotate the baking sheet halfway during baking!
When it was all said and done, a few swear words and a beer later, these cookies turned out great! And while my cookies look nothing like Martha's, nothing beats the smile I got from Grant when he ate the first one.