Monday, December 10, 2012

Ina Garten's Shortbread Cookies for Birthdaymas

Back in the third grade, the kids with birthdays during the upcoming month got to decorate our classroom's door. The September birthdays did a beach theme. The October birthdays obviously did a Halloween theme. The November birthdays broke with tradition and abandoned turkeys in favor of a baseball theme. And through it all, I patiently waited for December.

And then we found out that the December birthdays would not get to decorate the door because we were decorating the door for Christmas. It shouldn't have surprised me. Having a December birthday was the pits because my birthday was always overshadowed by Christmas. My mom would bring in cupcakes for the class (long before they forced to bring in carrot and celery sticks as birthday treats) and for a day, I'd be the awesome girl whose mom brought cupcakes. But the next day, some other mom would bring in Christmas cookies and I'd be dethroned. I'd wear my fancy birthday sweater and for a day, I'd be the one with the fabulous sweater. Until the next day when someone wore a Rudolph sweater with a real blinking nose.

Over the years, I became somewhat blase about my December birthday. The Christmas lights were more fun. The Christmas music more prevalent. And the Christmas time off was so much more life-sustaining. When I married the hubster, he tried to do all the things expected of newlywed spouses on birthdays. He planned surprise birthday parties only to realize I hate surprises. He bought jewelry only to discover I'd much rather get a new kitchen gadget (like this one, if you happen to be reading, hubster). And he sent flowers to my work only to discover I prefer my presents to be of the edible sort.

And bless his heart, he's gone with that. Every year, he makes me a birthday treat. Chocolate cream cheese cupcakes. Almond biscotti. Lemon pound cake. And coming from a man who "cooks" ramen, and makes peanut butter and Dorito sandwiches, and eats cereal out of measuring cups when I'm not around, his birthday treats make it almost bearable that come the day after my birthday, the world will again be covered in red and green tinsel.

This year, the hubster didn't ask where the cookie sheets were. He didn't ask whether unsalted and salted butter were basically the same thing. And he didn't spend hours calibrating the oven (because you know, the oven temperature must be perfect for his once a year baking session). And I, in turn, accepted that maybe birthday treats were a thing of the past now that we wake up at 3 a.m. to watch Sesame Street videos with little man and the majority of our time is spent digging through piles of laundry for that one tiny missing sock.

Until I came home to this. Shortbread cookies dipped in dark chocolate. Not just any shortbread cookies but Ina Garten's shortbread cookies. The ones with almost an entire pound of butter. The ones dipped so perfectly in "good quality" dark chocolate. So happy birthday to me. Oh and hubster? I have already begun the countdown to next year's birthday treat.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies
3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don't trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch.) Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.

Drizzle 1/2 of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it.

Recipe from Ina Garten.


  1. Wow, what a treat. I adore shortbread and would consider it the ultimate birthday treat. That being said, I won't let my Hubby, who could burn water if he tried, anywhere near my kitchen. The clean-up wouldn't be worth whatever he scraped out of the pan for me. So, on many levels, your guy is stellar in my book (but I'm keeping mine!).

    And, happy, happy birthday, my friend.

  2. Happy Birthday!

    Since my birthday is in July, I never got to do the whole "bring cupcakes to school" thing that everyone else seemed to do on their birthday. I *totally* felt left out so I feel you a bit on the whole getting overshadowed thing.

    Anyways... happy birthday once again :)

  3. Happy birthday, sweetie! As I get older I mind my own Dec birthday less, but I def commiserate with you.

  4. Happy Birthday Azmina! And my goodness, I sort of share your birthday door decorating pain because mine falls in June...when school is either ending or already ended. Bummer! But is your hubster for real? Talk about impressed! What a sweetie, this sure makes up for all those years, doesn't it? He did a fabulous job on this year's birthday treat, major kudos to him!

    Hugs and have a wonderful birthday! xo

  5. Happy Birthday my dear!!! Poor thing, we have three December bdays in the family and they all complain about the same thing. Hubby's a keeper though and even if he didn't make you such an awesome present, he would get bonus points for knowing you well enough to know what you really want. Can't wait for Thurs.

  6. Happy birthday! And what an awesome husband you have. My girls both have August birthdays, and I felt sad that they'd miss celebrating their birthdays at school, but they've always loved having a birthday during summer vacation.

  7. Your husband makes your birthday treats?!?!! like this one! Sending this post to my man right away.

  8. Happy Birthday, Azmina!! These shortbread cookies look fantastic - your hubster got skillz. Also, I'm glad find someone else who prefers a new kitchen gadget to jewelry ;)

    My husband and brother in law both have birthdays in the weeks around Christmas. Even though they didn't mind when they were kids, their parents made up for it with an abundance of presents. I guess it wasn't so bad for them :)

  9. Shortbread dipped in chocolate, sounds like a perfect way to celebrate a December, I'm wondering if I might be able to celebrate your birthday with a shortbread cookie of my own????!!! I was feeling slightly tempted when you mentioned the pound of butter and the good quality chocolate but I guess that's the idea;-)

  10. Happy birthday! What a perfect, delicious way to celebrate! My birthday is in a month and change...just sayin'... ;)

  11. awwww that was such a sweet story! the shortbread look fab - your husband should hone in on his fantastic baking skills!

    happy birthdayyyy xoxo

  12. Of all your amazing recipes I think this one takes the cake (no pun intended). Looks delicious my friend. Feel free to whip up a batch of these for my bday sometime around mid-Feb. :)

    And happy happy birthday to you! I hope you have some amazing plans!

  13. PS: If The Hubster is reading this? Please let my husband know that men actually do cook. And that they make amazing things for their wives!

  14. Happy Birthday Azmina! My birthday is ON Halloween so I know what you are talking about. Wow, your husband is so sweet!!!!! I love shortbread cookies, and these dipped in high quality dark chocolate sound like absolute perfection!! Enjoy your b-day!

  15. Happy Birthday :) The Hubster is really adorable I am not a big birthday person so I would be overjoyed if i got these cookies-forget class room celebration or surprises! hope you had a great one.

  16. I love shortbread & these look amazing. I just made & blogged about her raspberry crumble bar recipe. I will have to try this recipe. Happy Birthday!

  17. Happy Birthday! A husband who bakes for his wife's birthday, definitely a keeper :)

    Hope you had an amazing day!

  18. I think you may have the most awesome husband in the world, wow, he actually BAKED for you... considering he barely even cooks. I'm so impressed! They look so professional too. Never heard someone eating pb and dorito sandwiches, I may have to try that one. :)
    My birthday falls in June, and I lived in Nigeria the first 9 years of my life and went to an all Indian school. The year would end mid-May and it would suck cause I would never get to wear something other than a "uniform" to school and bring cake. I can relate, somewhat. :)

  19. Now these cookies I would make just for me... I adore shortbread. The rest of my family thinks it's utterly boring.
    This post could have been written by me! Except for the husband baking for you part anyway. Mine feels that there is a forcefield around the kitchen and he only enters if I'm away for the weekend.
    And, I'm absolutely behind the times as I was unaware of your new little man arrival!! Congratulations, albeit a bit late. My firstborn is a boy as well, and I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying him as he gets older and older. 16 this year, and a driver's test in a few weeks. Time flies! Enjoy ever moment!


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