Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sweet Starfish Shortbread Cookies

Sweet Starfish Shortbread Cookies

If a thief were to break into my house and rifle through my kitchen (this is a kitchenware thief), he would find an impressive collection of cookie cutters and conclude that I baked a lot of cookies.  Then he would steal my cutters.  But if the thief then logged on to this blog (because now he needs cookie recipes), he would find that there are none.  Perhaps you all have noticed that, too.  It's not that I don't like cookies.  Who doesn't like cookies?  It's just that I never seem to have much luck making them.  So why, you may well ask, do I have all these cookie cutters?  I shall explain.

Sweet Starfish Shortbread Cookies
I have a great admiration for those decorated cut out cookies and the people who make them.  Each time I see them I have a moment of... um... craziness... where I imagine producing a darling batch of decorated cookies myself.  So, when I see a darling looking cutter, the crazy takes over temporarily and I buy it, take it home and deposit it in a kitchen drawer (where the thief will find it).  About once a year, usually around some cookie-centered holiday, I will be overcome by the need to actually make another attempt.  I do this knowing full well that very few of the cookies will come out right.  But those that do, get presented to family, friends and colleagues who are all duly impressed with my (fictional) cookie skills.

Sweet Starfish Shortbread Cookies
So now you're thinking (those of you that are still here and haven't gone off to search for cookie recipes from people who actually know how to make them) what holiday is centered around starfish?  Well, none really but I spend my summers around water and in nautical themed little towns and there are always plenty of starfish on display and for sale.  I love starfish and I have a whole bunch in various decorative jars.  And then I saw a starfish shaped cookie cutter and the crazy took over.  I decided to turn to Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, for the recipe because she never lets me down.  She, like me, loves shortbread and she always seems to be expertly whipping up a batch of it.  I imagined decorating the starfish with those adorable little dots and serving them at a late summer party.  OMG, what in the hell is wrong with me??

Sweet Starfish Shortbread Cookies
So, here's the deal.  My girl, Ina's, recipe is yummy and we wolfed down those cookies in record speed.  But the dough is very, very crumbly and the cookies are extremely fragile when they first come out of the oven.  We will not speak of what happened to my first batch.  But, in all fairness, shortbread is much crumblier than the typical sugar cookie dough used to make cut-outs and, in the hands of a more experienced cookie baker, I have no doubt there would have been greater success.  And I did have a few serviceable starfish to serve and a whole bunch of bits and pieces that still tasted mighty fine.  Enjoy!

Ingredients
(Slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
1 1/2 Sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 3/4 Cup all purpose flour

Sweet Starfish Shortbread Cookies
Picking up a few starfish at a shop in Maine
In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt.  Using a hand or stand mixer, beat until all the ingredients are combined.  Slowly add the flour and mix until the dough comes together.  Turn it out on a floured board, shape it into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

On a well floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to approximately 1/4" thick and cut out desired shapes.  I used a 3 1/2" starfish shaped cutter.  Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the edges of the cookies turn a light golden brown.  Allow to cool before handling the cookies.  Ice or dust with powdered sugar, if desired.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

16 comments:

  1. I think these look great & I have the same affliction! LOL!

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  2. I have a wok that I thought I would wok things in all of the time. It's never been used.

    But if I had a starfish cookie cutter, these would be made. :D

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  3. I own more than my fair share of copper cookie cutters. I only use them during the holidays. You're making me want to bust mine out and create cute little cookies. These sound wonderful, and they're adorable.

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  4. How cute are these.. Love the shape! Our house still have our summer decor and we have starfish everywhere.. =)

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  5. Ah the dreaded drawer of cookie cutters. I have that, and I even have a bunch of shellfish themed ones too that I once got as a gift and refuse to throw away because you know, one day! I've tried Ina's recipe and it is good but I totally get the crumbly deal.

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  6. Gorgeous shape starfish cookies, and such an awesome recipe for the shortbread cookies. Love the cookies and he superb photos, as well!

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  7. Here's the irony: I make cookies all the time and have like...no cookie cutters lol.

    I love these though, they're beautiful Anita!

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  8. These are just SOOOO cute! What an amazing thing to have at a beach party or a Thursday ;-)

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  9. How freakin' cute are you with these cookies!!

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  10. You're too funny....these were a complete success! And perfect for any summer beach event!

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  11. We seem to have the same affliction. I am ashamed to say I have one of those rolling plastic things with 3 drawers FULL of cute cookie cutters and I have blogged my pathetic attempts at those adorable iced cookies! Yours look so good and shortbread is the BEST!

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  12. I just bought the same starfish in a shop on Long Island. These cookies are adorable Anita!

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  13. I think I have more cake pans than cookie cutters. I have a few shapes that I use for holidays and that's about it.
    Now as far as shortbread goes, it's a major weakness for me. A batch of these cookies would call out to me at all hours of the day and night. Resistance is futile...

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  14. I love starfish and I love your cookies. I have a few cookie cutters too, and other than plain ol' round ones, I never get anything that looks good or doesn't fall apart.

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