Some days things go sideways for the ones we love. Their train is late, or they miss it, and then it rains and the meetings are too long and the evening can’t come soon enough. And recently T had one of those days. The solution? Cookies. What, did you think cookies stopped making everything better just because you grew up?
Of course not. Of all the things that most definitely do not get less important with age, cookies and hugs are just two examples – and you can make the former a little less PG-13 by adding a bit of chilled white wine or bubbly if you like. I like.
Although unlike hugs, cookies do require a little bit of thinking ahead, it really is not that much. Nor is it terribly difficult to make really, really good cookies. In fact, it is laughably easy.
This recipe for emergency cookies is based closely on Ina Garten’s shortbread recipe from the original Barefoot Contessa cookbook, which I, by the way, love for its simplicity and the gorgeous results. (The original recipe is also available here.) If I had a cookie cutter (Note to self: buy cute cookie cutters!!!), I’d have made them heart-shaped too, but while making do with a narrow glass, the rounds turned out just fine too.
I’ve modified the recipe a little bit, to both, reduce the size of batch (which you don’t have to – see the link), and also added shredded orange zest because I love orange-zest pastry, and I think it goes well with vanilla.
You will need:
- Hand mixer or food processor (makes life much easier)
- Baking parchment
- Rolling pin or a clean de-papered wine bottle
- Cookie-cutter, or a glass with a thin edge, or a sharp knife
- 250g unsalted butter, softened (at room temperature or a little cooler)
- 1.5dl sugar (I use golden caster), + a little more for sprinkling (optional)
- 4 3/4dl (2 3/4 cups) white all-purpose wheat flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract (or substitute 2 tbsp of sugar with 2 tbsp of vanilla sugar with real vanilla)
- zest of 1 orange
- Mix together flour and salt. Some places say sift together, but I found that sprinkling salt over flour and swishing it around with a fork or spoon works just fine
- Mix butter and sugar on low to medium mixer setting until combined and light and fluffy.
- Add vanilla extract and orange zest. Mix to combine.
- Slowly add flour and continue mixing until dough begins to come together in coarse clumps.
- Remove onto a lightly floured surface and gently mash together with hands so it forms a cohesive piece, but not too much so you do not overheat or overwork the dough.
- Roll the dough out into a flat disc about the size of a saucer/small plate, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes. While the dough is refrigerating, preheat oven to 175°C (350F) on top+bottom setting, no fan/forced air.
- Prepare a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
- Take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap and roll out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of <1cm. Cut out cookie shapes with cutter, glass or lay the dough onto a floured cutting board and slice into rectangles or diamonds with a knife.
- Separate cookies and place them on the prepared sheet, making sure there is 2cm margin between them, to allow for expansion.
- Sprinkle the tops of cookies with a little caster sugar if you like.
- Bake on middle rack for 15-25 minutes (depending on the size, shape and thickness of cookies) until the cookies are very pale golden and the edges begin to colour slightly.
- Remove from oven and use a spatula to transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
- Once cooled, cookies can be stored in an airtight container lined with some clean baking parchment for as long as two weeks (for future emergencies as a precaution … in theory).
… what are you looking here for?! Like you need a ‘serving suggestion’ for your emergency cookies? If it’s an emergency, it’s an emergency! ;)