Friday, October 28, 2011

Woodland Critter Shortbread Cookies

Flaky, crumbly, delicate shortbread - quite possibly my favorite sweet indulgence.  Also quite possibly the finest culinary contribution to have emerged from Scotland to date (sorry, haggis).  

If you have yet to experience for yourself the magic of shortbread, imagine savoring a thick, sweet piece of pure pie crust, only vastly more delicious and, in this case, adorable.  

My inner 3-year old did a cartwheel the moment I first laid eyes on Ikea's Woodland Critter Cookie Cutters.  What's the only thing better than a batch of scrumptious cookies?  Scrumptious cookies in the shapes of snails, squirrels, and hedgehogs.

I made these little guys following the recipe for shortbread from Joy of Baking.  The ingredients are very simple: nothing but flour, butter, and powdered sugar with a bit of salt and vanilla extract thrown in.  On top of that, I added a couple shakes of ground cloves and allspice to give mine a little fall flavor.

Personally, I tend to prefer my shortbread simple and unadorned. But for the sake of experimentation, I dipped these in melted Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.  On the hedgehogs I also ground a bit of sea salt, and the squirrels received a coating of toasted pecan pieces.

Like what you see?  Try whipping up a batch for yourself!