Chocolate Dipped Shortbread… Hedgehogs!

March 7, 2011

The mental preparation for this recipe started way back in October, on a trip to Ikea. I saw a package of cookie cutters from across the bizarre-o shopping area (not to be confused with the “showroom”) and knew that I was a goner. Woodland creature shaped cookie cutters. Woodland creatures and a HEDGEHOG? For some reason, upon seeing the hedgehog the only cookie I thought of making was shortbread.

This idea has followed me around for months, even though I knew exactly which shortbread recipe to use and that I would fall in love with the cuteness and richness of the cookies. My tastebuds have been on the fritz lately, on account of a cold, and today marks the first day of their being back in business. What better way to celebrate than making chocolate covered shortbread hedgehogs?

Kind of a random story, but I’m really excited for these cookies. Something about bringing an idea to fruition, I think. This is a fantastic shortbread recipe, not very sweet at all, so there is much mor opportunity to enjoy the buttery flavor and melt in your mouth texture. I love the addition of rice flour to the mix, because that crunch is super interesting and sets your shortbread apart from all the rest.

Classic Shortbread

(Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations)

Yields 48 cookies (I halved the recipe and made both hedgehog AND wedge shaped cookies. The recipe yielded exactly 24 cookies. Talk about precision.)

Ingredients:

2 cups, or 4 sticks, unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes, cool but not cold*

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (plus 2 tablespoons in case dough is too wet)

½ cup rice flour (either brown or white)

2 egg yolks

*I took the butter out of the fridge, cut it into cubes, and left it sit on a plate at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Method:

1. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth. If using a stand mixer, beat butter on high speed until smooth.

2. Add sugar and salt. Beat until just incorporated.

3. Add both flours in two parts, mixing just until incorporated between each addition. The dough will be crumbly.

4. Add egg yolks one at a time, stirring until just combined after each addition.

5. If the dough looks too wet, add the extra 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. (I didn’t need the extra flour; my dough seemed too dry but came together after kneading in the next step.)

6. Gather dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently just until dough appears uniform, being careful not to overwork.

7. Divide dough into 8 equal parts, roll into balls, then shape into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, until disks are firm.

8. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

9. On a floured surface and working with one disc of dough at a time, roll dough until ½ inch thick, keeping the disc shape. Cut rolled disc into wedges, or use cookie cutter of choice, and prick top of dough with a fork. Transfer cookies to baking sheets.

10. Bake in preheated oven for 17 to 22 minutes, until cookies just start to brown.

11. Cool baking sheet on a wire rack for ten minutes, before removing cookies to another cooling rack to cool completely.

Keep cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

To dip in chocolate: Melt 8 to 10 ounces, (9 ounces chocolate measures about 1 ½ cup chips) dark or semisweet chocolate. Once melted, bring chocolate to room temperature and start dipping! Let cookies set on wax paper or baking sheet for at least 45 minutes before serving or storing.

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