Butter-Toffee Crunch Shortbread
21/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup rice flour, or substitute cornstarch if rice flour is unavailable)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons fruit sugar or caster sugar
6 tablespoons tightly packed light brown sugar
1 cup English toffee pieces (such at Skor, available in the baking sections of most supermarket)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13inch metal baking pan. Line the bottom and the two long sides with a piece of parchment paper. Leave about 1 inch overhang over the sides to make removing the cooled shortbread easier. Sift the all purpose flour and rice flour together with the salt and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, beat the butter until very smooth. Gradually add the sugars and cream the mixture until it is very light and fluffy. If using a mixer, transfer the creamed butter-sugar mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, fully incorporating each addition before adding the next. Use your fingers to knead the final portion of dry ingredients into the dough, keeping your palms off the dough as much as possible, so the warmth doesn’t turn the butter oily. When the last of the flour is fully blended, add the butterscotch and toffee bits and knead them into the dough until they are evenly distributed. I should warn you, at this point the dough now smell better than any cookie dough you have ever experience. Restrain yourself; you will do yourself no favours devouring the entire mess at this point, and the baking doesn’t take that long.
Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan and use the back of a metal spoon to smooth the surface, Prick the dough all over with a fork and set the pan in the centre of the oven . Bake the shortbread for about 45 minutes, then prick the dough again to release any trapped air. Return the pan to the oven for another 15 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are light golden brown, and the centre feels just firm to the touch.
The shortbread will set to a very firm biscuit as it cools, so it must be cut while it is still warm. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 7 to 8 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the outside of the dough to loosen the edges. Make two long cuts in the shortbread, dividing it evenly into three rectangles, each cut beginning and ending at a short side of the pan. Cutting from long side to long side, cut the rectangle into about 3/4 inch wide fingers, wiping the knife on a clean towel between each cut, as it gets sticky and can pull and tear the cooling shortbread.
Leave the fingers to cool completely in the pan, then recut and transfer them to airtight tins. This shortbread can be frozen before or after it is baked.
Freeze the dough pressed into the prepared pan, well wrapped with plastic and aluminium foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, without disturbing the wrapping, and bake directly from the refrigerator. The baking time may have to be increased by a few minutes to compensate for the chilled dough.
Freeze the cooled fingers in airtight bags or containers, layering between sheets of waxed or parchment paper and wrapping the whole tin or container with aluminium foil. Thaw the entire package, without removing the wrapping, at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.
The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup miniature butterscotch chips and 3/4 cup English toffee pieces. I omit the chips and slightly increase the toffee bits simply because I am not crazy about the chips taste.
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.
- Desiderius Erasmus