As we do every year at Christmas time, my mom and I held our “bake day” today. I almost said “famous bake day” but in truth, I think it’s become a bit “infamous” because in the past we would bake so many ridiculously decadent treats that we would overwhelm people.
However having gained great wisdom after years of holiday baking we’ve narrowed down our abundant baked goods to one recipe each. In other words, we just get too tired to cook multiple cookies, bars, brownies, etc. in one day. Or maybe I just get too tired. My mom is a baking maniac!
Today when I arrived, recipe in hand, my two and a half year old niece, Aubrey, was visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Now, anyone who knows me knows I absolutely adore Aubrey. She has got me wrapped around her adorable little finger, and she knows it, and I know it, and neither of us care. So I asked little Aubrey if she wanted to help me bake, to which she answered enthusiastically, “Ya!”
She donned my mom’s Santa apron, excitedly posed for pictures (and tried to take a picture of me in my apron but ended up taking about 20 by accident), climbed up on the kitchen bench, and away we baked!
Sadly Aubrey had to leave about half way through our efforts, but she did get to learn how to measure packed brown sugar, salt, flour, and vanilla and hold the electric mixer (with two hands plus one of my hands) as her whole body shook from the mixer’s swift movements.
My favorite quote (said in an adorable 2 year old voice that can’t quite pronounce each syllable) was “Is that sugar? I like sugar!”
With Aubrey’s help, we created this extraordinarily easy yet sophisticated shortbread. Give them as a holiday gift, or a hostess gift, or just eat them yourself. They are wicked good!
Chocolate Butterscotch Shortbread (care of Gail Simmons)
INGREDIENTS: 2 sticks unsalted butter (softened), 3/4 cup dark-brown sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 butterscotch chips, 8 oz. dark chocolate (melted)
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, reduce speed to low, and slowly add flour and salt until just combined. Mix in butterscotch chips and stir until evenly distributed, scraping down paddle if needed. Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan. Using a rubber spatula, press dough evenly into pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Score dough into eighths in one direction and quarters in the other, to make 32 rectangular cookies. Pierce dough all over with a fork. Bake until firm an slightly golden brown around the edges, 50 to 60 minutes. Immediately cut through all scoring to separate cookies. Let cool completely in pan. Remove cookies and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dip half of each cookie in chocolate, gently scraping off any excess, and place back on baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.