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Dine-In: Do You Have an Elf on the Shelf?


Austrian ShortbreadDo you have an Elf on the shelf?

We do.

Ok, not the “official,” trademarked Elf on the Shelf, but his cousin, Saxon.

Saxon comes to visit sometime soon after Thanksgiving and stays for the holiday season. He gets into a lot of mischief.

Last year, he took the flour out of the baking cupboard and tried to make a cake, but he only succeeded in spreading flour all over my black, granite countertops.

Not only that, but Saxon tried to bring a feeling of the North Pole to our Southern home by making snowflakes one night. Guess who had to clean up all the little paper clippings in the hallway?

Saxon was known to log on to our family laptop and change the screen saver message. One night he wrote, “Cookies for breakfast!” Guess what we had for breakfast the next morning?

I remember one morning when I woke up and staggered to the boys’ rooms to get them out of bed. Saxon had hung twinkle lights all over their bedrooms!

Silly elf!

Since Saxon usually finds his way to our house right after Thanksgiving, but just before we decorate the Christmas tree, usually the first weekend in December, there’s usually a little anticipatory celebration (although we never know for sure when Saxon will show up, he’s a very silly elf).

Of course, it never hurts to leave a little treat to entice a silly elf to come to your house.

This is my favorite shortbread recipe. Freezing the dough and grating it makes it melt in your mouth and lighter than air.

Austrian Shortbread
Makes 24 bars

Ingredients:
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Optional additions: 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup raspberry jam, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:
Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) until soft and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix well.

Mix the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to the butter and egg yolk mixture and mix just until incorporated and the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and form into 2 balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze at least 2 hours or overnight (or as long as a month, if you like).

Heat the oven to 350° F.

Remove 1 ball of dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it by hand or with the grating disk in a food processor into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan or a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Make sure the surface is covered evenly with shreds of dough.

With a piping bag with a wide tip or a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off, squeeze the jam over the surface as evenly as possible, to within 1/2 inch of the edge all the way around. Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it over the entire surface.

Bake until lightly golden brown and the center no longer wiggles, 50 to 60 minutes. As soon as the shortbread comes out of the oven, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Cool on a wire rack, then cut in the pan with a serrated knife. I find that chilling the pan in the fridge makes it a lot easier to get clean crust.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 285 Calories from Fat: 147 Total Fat: 16 g Saturated Fat: 10 g Cholesterol: 76 mg Sodium: 134 mg Total Carbohydrates: 33 g Dietary Fiber: 1 g Sugars: 17 g Protein: 3 g

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

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