bocce and shortbread…

Today is bocce day! We are beginning to feel the summer heat creeping in with longer days and a pinch of humidity. These days just beg for bocce ball in the sun and beer…and iced tea and shortbread cookies? But of course. I am a firm believer that any type of lawn sport require tea and shortbread cookies in some variety, it is only good form. Plus, it is a nice nod to the Scot in me that wants to throw on her lawn whites and get to some lawn bowling.

Shortbread is like a blank canvas with infinite possibilities to be inventive, and an opportunity to use what you have in your kitchen.  Hundreds of different cookies starting with one simple dough. Having a good shortbread recipe in your repertoire is like having a good Sauce Tomat or Bechamel recipe; a delicious base from which to exercise your creativity. Here is one that I use, but feel free to use your favorite, this is adapted from a number of recipes over time:


2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 tbs vanilla extract

scrapings of 1 vanilla bean

4 cups flour

Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean.  Mix together flour and salt, then add flour mixture slowly until combined.  Scrape out onto a floured surface, shape into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

**Note, you can change out vanilla for any other extract/flavorings you desire…lemon extract and lemon zest for example? Also, I usually cut my dough into thirds and refrigerate so I can make at least 3 varieties of shortbread cookies.

Here is what he we had for our day of bocce ball:

Dusted shortbread domes with pecans and apricots

1/3 shortbread dough recipe

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup diced dried apricots

1 tbs orange zest

¼ cup powdered sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Mix pecans, apricots, and zest into the shortbread recipe before chilling. Once properly chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then scoop dough into bite size pieces. Place evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Should make approximately 20-25 cookies.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.  While cookies are cooling, mix together powdered sugar and ground cinnamon with a sifter or fork. Roll the cookies in the mixture and evenly coat. Repeat proportions for the sugar mixture as necessary until all cookies are dusted.

Spiced chocolate dipped shortbread squares

1/3 shortbread dough recipe

6-8 oz dark chocolate, the darker the better

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ancho chili powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

dash of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out shortbread dough until ½ inch thick. Cut into squares, or use your favorite cookie cutter.  Place evenly on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack.  While the cookies are cooling, melt/temper the chocolate. Mix in spices as desired. The spice is meant to be subtle. Dip cookies into chocolate and place on parchment paper and then into the refrigerator.  Serve when chocolate has set.

Shortbread thumbprints with chocolate covered blackberries

1/3 shortbread dough recipe

4 oz dark chocolate

½ cup chopped nuts (pecans/almonds)

basket of blackberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out cookies into small rounds. Roll in chopped nuts.  Press your thumb in the middle, making an indentation and slightly flattening the cookie. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until edges are light brown, careful not to burn the nuts. Coat the blackberries with chocolate, and place in the middle of the cookie and let dry. Or, add a dollop of your favorite preserves.

and of course the tea:

Pomegranate and herb iced tea

6-8 cups boiling water

3 pomegranate tea bags

small bunch fresh mint

2-3 small sprigs fresh rosemary

½ cup mesquite honey

Boil water, turn off heat, set aside.  In a large pitcher secure 3 pomegranate tea bags and add honey to the bottom.  Then slightly bruise the herbs, releasing their natural oils, flavor, and fragrance.  Add water and let steep for approximately 20-30 minutes.  You can pull the tea out if you would like, at desired flavor.  I serve with the herbs still in the pitcher. Chill in refrigerator.  Serve over ice and garnish w/ mint. Perfect way to use some leftover herb clippings from your garden.

Cook together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


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