So much savory so little time, but life isn't all about the main course (no matter how delicious it may be). Sometimes you just need dessert. It's a simple undisputed truth, no matter your age or diet plan, at some point you just want something sweet. Now before you shut me down and go in search of a "healthy" alternative to these delicious little treats consider this: will that option truly satisfy the craving for sweetness or bring that moment of comfort you are longing for that is reminiscent of childhood joy? Think of the negative effects all that unresolved stress will have on your body. And, if that isn't enough, just keep in mind - one little, bitty cookie muffin may well be worth the relief. Besides, with only four little ingredients the risk falls more on your tastebuds than you pocketbook so why not give it a try?
For me shortbread is an amazingly fond memory of my childhood. I remember happily sitting on the kitchen counter swinging my legs and singing "momma's little baby loves shortenin', shortenin', momma's little baby loves shortenin' bread" while my mom baked (it's a good thing it was a short recipe, or I very well may have driven her insane). I couldn't help it, even then I knew the joys that resulted when butter, flour, and sugar all came to the party. It was a delightful treat when the smells filled the kitchen and that first slice was cut from the pan. For quite some time it seemed that my mom's famed shortbread recipe had vanished and I was stranded, forced to concoct my own. Now, not wanting to compete with the comfort food of my childhood, I decided to try my hand at shortbread "cookies." Not always the most successful, it was a very fussy concoction. But I kept trying and one day I made some modifications to my most successful shortbread cookie recipe that resulted in the creation of shortbread muffins. Reminicent of the rich dessert I loved but surprisingly light and fluffy! Who knew shortbread could puff up like that?
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
First thing's first - before we start I must stress one thing, it's about the butter, it really must be softened. You don't want it melted into a puddle in a dish but it does need to be soft all the way through in order to get the full fluffed effect we are going for, if you can't wait for it to soften just be warned that they may come out a bit more dense like traditional shortbread. Now that we have that out of the way -
1. Using a hand mixer, blend softened butter and sugar until fluffy (should only take a couple seconds if soft). Add vanilla and continue to blend.
2. Slowly add in the flour and blend until well mixed, should be a clumpy but mixed all the way through.
3. Grease muffin cups, mini sized work best but the regular size will work with a bit longer cook time. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a spoonful of the mixture and compress in the palm of your hand to form a small ball shape. Be careful not to overwork the cookie dough, if you do it will come out more dense. Drop one ball of dough into each muffin cup, there's no need to shape any further as the cooking will help it take form.
4. Bake for approximately 12 min for small muffins and 16-18 min for regular muffins. The shortbread should be getting golden around the corners and the center should rise a bit when done. Pull out and allow to cool slightly on a cookie rack before removing.
There's no need to rush now, just take your time, go and get yourself a small plate. Place a single shortbread muffin in the center of the plate, sit down, and enjoy that first bite - that rich buttery goodness, still warm in the center from baking but cool to touch on the outside - and let your mind wander past all that stress from work, all those frustrations with family, and on to that place of happiness we knew best as children. Enjoy the moment. Just remember to take care to ease yourself back into reality before that peaceful feeling is shattered by the dog barking, kids sceaming, or traffic moving noisily outside your door. But don't let go of that feeling, that comfort, that you felt in that first delicious bite. I hope your day is as delicious as mine. Enjoy!