Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Walnut Shortbread

I have a great fondness for shortbread. I don't think I'd tasted anything close to real shortbread until I was in the 5th grade. Before that, about all I'd had were those tinned Danish butter cookies at post-church coffee hours and the Girl Scout Trefoil cookies I sold as a Brownie. That all changed once I recieved the topic allotted to me for my 5th grade pioneer day: food. Tasked with recreating some tastes of the history of American pioneer fare, I thought of the descriptions of food in A Little House on the Prairie, one of my favorite elementary school reads. We somehow extrapolated one of their recipes for shortbread - you know, the special treat in Mary and Laura's Christmas stockings? It may have been thanks to some behind-the-scenes parental digging getting our hands on a copy of The Little House on the Prairie Cookbook - but who knows? I was probably too busy licking the batter of my fingers to notice. Once the first taste of homemade shortbread melted on my tongue, I suddenly realized just how much I'd been missing with those tinned and boxed cookies. A nice little lesson in appreciating that even if the pioneers didn't have the marvels of modern technology and society, they had daggone delicious eats! Most of my classmates if I recall correctly, agreed with me. There certainly wasn't anything left to bring home. Though I have yet to get my hands on that recipe again (a task I am working on I assure you), I saw a delicious and slightly similar-sounding shortbread recipe in this month's MSL magazine. I tweaked it a bit to make it a bit more nutritious but it was certainly still absolutely melt-on-your-tongue tasty shortbread.

Walnut Shortbread
adapted from MSL March 2010
1/4 c walnuts toasted and chopped
1 c whole wheat pastry flour (the original used white flour)
1/2 c Sucanat or brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick of butter
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 F. Process walnuts in a food processor until ground fine. Add to a bowl with the flour and salt.
In a separate bowl or stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Slowly add in flour mixture until just combined.
Press down into a 8" cake pan (a sheet of cellophane will be handy here to keep it from sticking to you), and cut the dough into 8 slices. Prick slices with fork a few times (I found concentric circles around the pan are rather pretty).
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the shortbread is golden brown and the middle is solid.

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