This is a shout out to all my baking challenged friends. For those of you who shudder at the thought of baking something too difficult. And you know who you are. It does not get much easier than shortbread. Shortbread cookies purposely do not have any leavener in them as you do not want them to spread. The dough is “short” which means it is crumbly in texture. Shortbread is quite often a traditional gift to give for the Holidays as the cookies last for a while and somehow they get better with age. Shortbread is a good way to experiment with flavors that you like. You can add just about any kind of flavor enhancer to a shortbread recipe that you like to make it your own. Today I’m going with earl grey tea. I love the slight earthiness and bergamot scent from the tea and because shortbread is sweet it balances well with the flavor. The bittersweet chocolate is a nice touch and you can leave it off if you desire.
Earl Grey Chocolate Shortbread
2 Tbsp. loose Earl Grey tea leaves or 4 regular size tea bags
3/4 Cup unsalted butter, cut into Tablespoons
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup Cake flour (if you like see my post on how to make cake flour)
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (hint-Ghiradelli bars come in 4 0z. so you can use 1/2 a bar without measuring)
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
1. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch removable tart pan (use the butter wrappers that the butter was in).
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and add the tea; stirring well to combine. Remove from the heat, and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Strain the butter through a fine mesh sieve or a cheese cloth. Squeeze to get all the butter. Reserve about 1-2 tsp. of the tea to add back in (depending on your preference).
3. Stir together the warm butter, sugar, reserved tea, vanilla and salt. Add the flours and stir until just blended. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and pat into an even layer. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (or 30 mins. in the freezer). May chill up to 2 days before baking.
4. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
5. Bake the chilled shortbread for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. While the shortbread is still hot cut into 16 wedges with a thin sharp knife. Transfer the wedges to a wire rack and cool completely.
Prepare Chocolate for dipping:
1. In a microwave on high, melt the chocolate in short intervals checking closely to make sure chocolate does not burn. Stir in the vegetable oil.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and dip each shortbread wedge into the chocolate; being careful to check for any loose crumbs first before dipping. Dip each pointed end of shortbread into the chocolate up about an inch from the point. Set the wedges on the prepared sheet and let stand until set, about 1 hour at room temperature. To speed up the process you can also set the wedges in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.
Serve at room temp. Store in an airtight tin or container.