I woke up at 2:30 am this morning. Grunt. Couldn't get back to sleep.
As I lay there in bed, it occurred to me that if I got up now, I could get all my Christmas baking (which I'd been putting off) done early. So I did. Fired up the oven at 3 am.
This year I made shortbread for our friends and neighbors. The shortbread recipe I use is as follows:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
This is a recipe where butter should always be used, never margarine.
And surprisingly, the secret ingredient is rice flour, which makes the cookie very delicate and flaky.
I made numerous octuple-batches of shortbread today. I don't know if I ever want to see another bit of shortbread. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
First, mix the two flours together and set aside.
Since chilled butter is rock-hard, I soften it in the microwave.
Mix the softened butter with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved into the butter.
Then add the flour mix.
It may be tough to use a mixer, so be prepared to mix it by hand if necessary.
Form small balls of dough, no more than about an inch across (they'll spread out). By the way if these pans look messy, it's because I'd already baked about fifteen or sixteen batches of shortbread by the time it was light enough to take these photos.
Gently flatten the balls with the bottom of a tumbler dipped in sugar.
Bake at 350F for, well, I don't know. In my oven, it's 11 minutes exactly. You'll have to learn what time works for you. Do NOT overbake these -- overly-browned shortbread just doesn't taste good.
These cookies are very rich and very fragile. They're not the sort of cookie you can ship through the mail!
I baked batch after batch after batch. Long ago lost count. I think it was 24 batches, but I'm not sure.
By the time I called it quits nine hours after I started, I can heartily assure you I didn't want to see another shortbread cookie until next Christmas. (Each of those piles has between seven and nine cookies.)
Massive cleanup effort.
Ah, but my day's work wasn't done. Next I had to make an octuple batch of my (cough) world-famous Irish cream liqueur. Details for this treat are posted here.
Sixteen eggs. Beat, then add nine cans of sweetened condensed milk.
Now three tablespoons each instant coffee and chocolate syrup.
After this I transfer things to my largest stock pot before adding a gallon of cream...
...and a gallon of vodka. Let me tell you, this stuff has a kick. Drink it at home when you're not planning on going anywhere.
Next I hauled out my dusty collection of dark-brown bottles donated by friends over the years. Folks know to return the bottles to me after they're empty, so I can re-use them again.
I cleaned them thoroughly, then filled them up with the raw liqueur. Here the wet bottles are draining a bit before I toweled them dry.
This liqueur won't be ripe for a week and should be stored in a dark place during that time. I made sure to label the ripe date so friends would know when they could indulge. A good New Year's treat!
Here's the loot for the day.
I divvied up the cookies into Christmas bags for friends and neighbors.
By the end of the day, I'm worn out. But our gifts are ready.
Tomorrow is our big day of celebration, so I'm off to bed. Hopefully I won't have any more 2:30 am wakeup calls!