December 16, 2020. Hookie Cookie Day is probably the best idea Mom and I ever came up with as parents- this, and putting money aside for your colleges- but Hookie Cookie Day was way more fun and a lot cheaper. It started when Mom was a little, school girl and her mom, GM, was a teacher in a different school district. Every once in a while, GM’s school had a Snow Day when Mom’s school didn’t. When this happened, GM, being an amazing mom, would let Mom stay home from school to bake cookies. We decided to honor this tradition with Hookie Cookie Day- that one school day each holiday season when we would surprise you kids by letting you sleep in a bit, before we woke you up for a day of holiday baking instead of school! So today, I hereby declare it Hookie Cookie Day and give you two recipes from the family archives- a jam covered shortbread, which was one of your favorites that I would always make, followed by a very kid friendly recipe for dog biscuits that you two would always make!
The first recipe, Pensioner’s Shortbread, is based on a recipe I found in the New York Times years ago, which you now have to pay $1.25/week or $40/year to access. Not to worry though, my version is absolutely free! Not only that, I’ve recently come across some cherished recipe cards from a Scottish aunt, famous for her shortbread, that have been used to tweak the recipe for the better.
Pensioner’s Shortbread- as good as Millionaire’s Shortbread, but not as snooty
GET YOUR STUFF OUT
- 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (40g) cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea salt or a bit more of kosher salt
- 1-3/4 cups (400 grams or 3-3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature-for a more tender bite in your shortbread, swap in 1/2 cup (100 grams or 8 tablespoons) of room temperature vegetable shortening, which is actually vegan- who knew?!- for an equal amount of butter
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar- for a softer crumb, substitute 1 3/4 cups (200 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
- 1 cup (320 grams) seedless raspberry or your favorite jam
- Lemon zest for garnish, optional
COOK AND PLAY
Crank up some Christmas tunes from the Cockney Scotsman, Rod Stewart, while you bake! When you’re finished baking, you should also check out I Married an Axe Murderer– Mike Myers’ (pre Shrek) romantic comedy with a Scottish flair.
- Flour Bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch and salt*.
- Butter-Sugar Bowl. Thoroughly mix together butter, sugar and vanilla*. You can do this in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, with paddle attachment- start at a low speed.
- Mix It Up. Mix flour, one third at a time and starting at a low speed, into the Butter-Sugar Bowl until the dough is well mixed. Feel free to knead dough a few times on the counter if you like.
- Cookie Pan Sling. Line a 13×9″ baking pan with a foil “sling”-tearing two pieces of foil- one that extends several inches beyond the width of the pan and the other that extends several inches beyond the length of the pan. Shape the foil to the pan, extending it over the sides – you will use this to prevent breakage when you lift the cooked shortbread out of the pan. Treat pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Pan Shaping. With you hands and/or an offset spatula, lovingly press shortbread mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan- for the best shot of getting an even thickness, tear off clumps of the dough and scatter it all about the pan- pressing it down and out to evenly cover surface. Once you have it looking good and even, use a fork to poke a good amount of holes (30 or so) in the shortbread to promote proper baking.
- Chill Out. If you have the time, it also helps to refrigerate the dough for at least 1-2 hours or up to overnight.
- Bake. When you’re ready to bake, set up oven at 300 degrees and make room on the middle rack. Bake shortbread until set, with edges that are lightly golden brown, about 45 minutes.
- Easy Streusel Topping. Cool to warm for 20 minutes or so before you cut off 1/2 to 1 inch strips on shorter sides of the shortbread that you will crumble and place in a side bowl to use as a streusel topping- this is genius (full credit to NYT) because there is no need to make and bake a separate streusel!.
- Top, Lift & Cut. Spoon jam on shortbread (give it a few minutes to soften from shortbread heat) then spread jam over the shortbread. Carefully air lift shortbread with Foil Sling from pan onto a cutting board. Sprinkle shortbread streusel over jam and carefully cut into squares for serving.
- Tea Time. Enjoyed best with a cup of tea.
- Storage. Shortbread squares can be stored, layered between plastic wrap or wax paper, in an airtight container for a few days- even longer if kept in refrigerator.
* If you’d like a lemon boost to balance the butter in the recipe, add the zest of a lemon to the Flour Bowl mix and a few teaspoons of lemon juice to the Butter-Sugar Bowl mix- I like the taste of butter, so I just sprinkle the lemon zest on some of the squares for a little punch of bright flavor.
WIZARD’S DOG BISCUITS
This bonus dog biscuit recipe, also available at no extra charge, is named in memory of Wizard, our crazy, black lab that Santa brought to us from the North Pole one lucky Christmas, many years ago.
This was the perfect recipe for you to make when you were kids- no need to flour hands, counter and dough to keep the dough from sticking or tearing and sturdy as heck, for ease in rolling and cutting out. I still remember the first time you girls made these in secret and presented them to me as a “cookie” and how much you laughed at the confusion on my face after I bit into one. They weren’t actually bad, just a bit too healthy tasting for a cookie.
For a special holiday treat, a bit of Barney Butter has been added to the recipe- not too much because I’d rather have it for my eating and cooking pleasure than to feed it to the dogs. Incidentally, dog biscuits made with Barney Butter do taste better- I’ve tried both!
The best thing about this recipe though, is that, however it turns out- uncooked, undercooked, burned, misshaped, broken into pieces- your dogs will think it’s the best thing they’ve ever eaten! That is, until the next time you feed them!
Prep Time: 10 minutes or so
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes or so per batch
Servings: A Good Amount, but never enough for any dog
Important Note. Always check with your vet before introducing any new food, like nut butters to your dog’s diet. Use only natural nut butters, with only natural, dog safe ingredients. Also, start with a small amount and wait to check for allergic reactions. Nut butters offer many health benefits to dogs, but are high in fat and should be given in moderation- like any dog or human treat really.
Full Disclosure- Barney Butter is not a sponsor, but friends- close enough friends that if their almond butter was no good I could tell them, but because it’s so delicious, there is no need for that uncomfortable conversation.
GET YOUR STUFF OUT II
- 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups (270-300 grams) whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup (195 grams) nonfat milk or water
- 1 egg, optional, if omitted use 1/4 cup (60 grams) more milk or water
- 1/4 cup (70 grams) Bare Smooth Barney Butter (I only had “Crunchy” on hand)
- 3/4 (210 grams) cup natural peanut butter- did you notice we have a peanut butter and jelly thing going on with the first recipe?
COOK AND PLAY II
Who knew Snoop Dog had a Christmas Song? You’ll have to play this while you bake-fo shizzle my nizzle- am I using this term correctly?
- Doggie Bowl. Set up an oven at 325 degrees, with room on a middle rack. Normally when baking, you’d mix dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, but since you’re cooking for dogs, one bowl will do. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour and baking powder. Make a well in middle of flour, add egg and milk to it and use a sturdy spoon or spatula to mix well. Add nut butters and mix it all up into thick, rich doggie dough!
- Cut It Out. Roll dough out on counter top or cutting board (it is a bit oily and will leave a slick) to 1/4”-1/2” thickness. Cut into desired shapes for the size of your dog(s); gathering scrapes, rolling and cutting out again until all the dough is used. Place cut outs on an ungreased baking tray- the biscuits don’t expand all that much, so you can pack them on the tray!
- Bake It! Bake, checking on biscuits after about 15 minutes, until darkened and quite firm, another 5-10 minutes. Repeat if more dough remains.
- Storage. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container- in the fridge for many days or frozen for up to 3 months.
A VERY SHORT HOLIDAY BAKING LECTURE
Why Weights? If it were up to me, all ingredients in baking recipe would be given in weights and everyone would happily own a digital scale– one of you may even be getting one for Christmas! This is how the pros do it because a cup of flour and many other baking ingredients will vary by weight, depending on how it’s loaded into a cup, and what could be easier and make for less dishes than simply adding ingredients directly from their container into a bowl. You have to “zero out” the scale (known as “taring”) before adding each ingredient, but that’s as simple as pushing a button! Also, if you’re going to be stubborn about weighing ingredients, you will not be happy measuring out sticky ingredients like Barney or peanut butter, but this nifty device will certainly help.
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