Inspired by Chessmen: Buttery, Flakey, Sugary Short Bread

22 Jul

When I was younger my Grandma Irene used to buy me Pepperidge farm “Chessmen” cookies (at least that’s what I believe they were called). Every white paper package held pawns, rooks, bishops and knights – delicious, buttery shortbread cookies all. The memory of these treats came to me when we were sitting on the couch one evening, sipping a bit of Jameson’s. We’ll often whip up desserts – mostly cookies and cupcakes – when we get nibbly in evenings, so I started researching. I found a quick recipe on All Recipes and confirmed the very short list of ingredients was present in our cabinet, then set to work.

I’ve never made short-bread before, which by the way, isn’t much of a “bread”. No yeast, no kneading, just mixing. I’m not sure if other recipes are similar, but this was one of the “toss it all into the bowl and mix it up” ones. One quick thing about this recipe though, it has a LOT of butter in it.

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In fact, the final batter is incredibly oily and I was easily able to spread it into a cake pan. I sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of sugar onto the top and popped it in the oven for baking.

Now you may be asking, what goes great with shortbread? Strawberries you say? Exactly – and because I had made a berry fruit salad for a BBQ earlier in the week I had a whole package of them waiting for me. I sliced the fruit up into convenient little chunks in no time at all.

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Whipped cream is the second requirement. Luckily I had about half a carton of regular whipping cream in the fridge. A couple of weeks before this when I was visiting my parents, I saw my mom whip egg whites into the best “peaks” I’ve ever seen using her food processor. I took a page out of her book and just poured the whip cream into my own and turned it on. About 7 minutes later (that’s right 7), the whipped cream was perfect. Unfortunately, I did not stop it at 7 minutes – I stopped at 10. Apparently, when you over-whip, whipped cream, it starts to take on more of a cottage cheese like texture. It still ended up tasting delicious, but all you would-be food-processor-whipping-creamers out there take warning.

By this time, the shortbread is starting to make the entire house smell like Christmas and when the oven timer beeped, I quickly removed the pan and set it onto a plate to cool. Remember how I mentioned butter? There was absolutely no problem with batter sticking to the pan, it was shiny and clean. Julia Child would be proud.

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Final verdict? Buttery goodness that I dare say you could find in a five-star restaurant. I plated Colleen a slice with the fresh whip and strawberries (while it was still slightly warm). I went to go back to get one for myself, turned back around and hers was gone. I think she liked it.


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