Saturday, December 14, 2013

Candied Citrus Shortbread Bars

   With Christmas rushing in from all sides, now is usually the time when people start scrambling for presents, extra groceries & liquor for gatherings, and of course, cookies for when everyone starts to come visiting. Shortbread is a holiday staple, and there’s no big surprise why: it’s easy, versatile and melt in your mouth delicious. There are many ways you can use your shortbread dough, and every single one will taste delicious.

  There is, of course, a very good reason why shortbread is as widely beloved as it is, and it’s because when you break all the recipes down, they stem back to the same basic idea: one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour. People put their own spin on the recipe by adding eggs, or leaveners, extracts or fillings, but they all stem back to the same root.

  To make these cookies extra festive, I added candied citrus peel to my dough. You can find it in grocery stores at this time of year, and it’s incredible for adding a tasty zing to these cookies. Orange, lemon and lime candied zest, chopped up into a tiny dice gives a wonderful subtle citrus sweetness to these cookies, without being too over-powering.

  You’ll definitely want to chill this dough for 2 hours or more before you roll it out. It’s entirely possible to roll and cut your slices right away, but the texture of your finished cookies won’t be quite the same. Though if you’re in a rush and don’t have time to let it chill, relax! It’s shortbread; it’s a forgiving dough. They’ll still taste lovely.

  I hope you try these shortbread bars, because they’re so melt-in-your-mouth tender you have to taste it to believe it! Try adding your own take on fillings to mix in, or try them plain. Try dipping them in chocolate, or using white chocolate instead of dark. Try cutting them out with cookie cutters and decorating them with royal icing. There are endless combinations to try with this versatile dough, and I know that your friends and family will love you to pieces if they see you bringing a plate of these to your next Christmas party!

Candied Citrus Shortbread Bars
Tender, buttery shortbread flavored with tiny morsels of candied citrus will make you a real hit when visiting friends & family this holiday season!

Prep time: 10 min.
Bake time: 10-12 min.
Yield: 2-3 dozen bars

2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp salt
1 cup fine dice candied citrus peel (Also called mixed peel)

1 cup dark chocolate, melted

In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar. Cream on medium with the paddle attachment for 3 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the butter is evenly mixed & fluffy. Add vanilla and salt, mix an additional 1 minute.

Add in flour slowly on low, mixing until almost combined. Add candied citrus and mix until fully combined (30-60 sec.). Careful not to over-mix the dough! You want these cookies tender. Turn out onto your work surface and pat it into a large pile, pressing any almost-mixed pieces into the pile. It should look like a smooth, buttery-yellow dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Divide your dough in half. Wrap one half back in plastic and return it to the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to about ¼ - ½ inch thick. Cut into 1x3” bars and transfer them to a baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. You can re-roll and cut your dough scraps as well. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 10-12 minutes, or until slightly browned at the edges. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate and chill till set. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.*

*Shortbread cookies also freeze very well! They’re good wrapped in the freezer for up to 1 month.

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