Presenting my first ever bake sale item. That's right, nearly three years since my last post (oh, hi by the way, I still exist), I am now the proud mom of a preschooler, necessitating bake sale contributions. As is my way, I way overthought this duty, from the "hmmm, what would I want to buy at a bakesale?" ponderings to my veto of all the bake sale standbys on the basis that they would surely be brought by somebody else, to my twee, pinterest-nerd response to the requirement that all bake sale items be individually wrapped and ready for sale. What could be more appealing than subtly spiced shortbread dipped in dark chocolate and cutely wrapped in waxed paper and stripey baker's twine? Not much, if you're a 30-something girl foodie looking for a little indulgence.
What I failed to take into account was that this bake sale was at a bounce house extravaganza in a middle school gym. The customer base was not the moms looking for a sweet to go with their cup of coffee (coffee banned from gym, moms interested in bake sale table only as a means to motivate their kids out of bounce house-a-pa-looza and toward the exit) but rather, the hungry, bounce-xhausted kiddos being dragged home by their parents. Bakery-esque gourmet petit fours are not the way to a five year-old's heart. Next year I think I'll make something oversized and featuring brightly-colored m&ms.
However, I was able to find a receptive audience for the plethora of leftover cookies. I took them to Ladies' Spa Night at my friend Allison's house. If only there was a bake sale targeting freshly exfoliated ladies drinking wine in their swimsuits, I would have nailed it!
Winter Spice Chocolate and Shortbread Cookies
3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp ea of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger
1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar (or you can just use plain old white sugar if you don't have fancy sugar on hand)
9 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar, add vanilla and mix until well blended. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and spices. Add to mixer bowl and blend at low speed until dough coagulates into clumps, then use your hands to compress the dough into two balls. Flatten the balls into disks and wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes or more.
When your dough is chilled, preheat your oven to 350. Roll out each disk of dough into a 1/2" thick rectangle and cut into 2"x3" rectangles. Place them on ungreased cookie sheets and sprinkle each cookie with turbinado or white sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a rack.
After all the cookies have cooled, it's time to add the chocolate. Lay out 2 baking sheet-sized pieces of waxed paper. In a glass bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each time, until the chocolate is just melted enough to stir the lumps into smoothness. (Alternatively, melt on the stove top in a double boiler.) Dip each cookie halfway into the melted chocolate, using a spoon to sweep dripping edges back into the bowl. Lay each dipped cookie onto the waxed paper and allow to cool completely before eating or storing.
Makes about 50 cookies.