Is there anything better for dessert than a tray of fresh fruits of the season? Especially now, when we have berries and melons of many colors to spread out on the table.
Still, there are times when just a little something is nice to serve with the fruit tray, and the cookies I made today were just the right touch.
Shortbread is the basis for many kinds of sweets throughout the world, and cookies as varied as Mexican wedding cookies and Russian teacakes are almost identical in their ingredients, and even in their form.
This variation is among the easiest of all, because the dough is pressed evenly on to a baking sheet with the chocolate chips sprinkled evenly over the top.
A key is to have the butter soft but not melted. From start to finish, they take little more than 10 minutes to make and another 12 to 15 minutes to bake, perfect for a last minute addition to a meal with friends.
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Squares
1 c butter, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 t almond flavoring
1/2 c ground pecans (may substitute ground almonds or walnuts)
2 c flour
1 c miniature chocolate chips
1. For best results, the butter should be quite soft but not melted. I have found that taking it from the refrigerator, cutting it into a few chunks and then putting in the microwave at LOW power for about a minute or so results in a nice soft consistency.
Stir the butter and powdered sugar together until smooth and then blend in the ground nuts and flavorings.
2. Add the flour and continue to stir until the mixture is evenly blended. It should have the consistency of play dough; if necessary, add just a little flour if it is too sticky.
3. Using your fingers, spread the dough as evenly as possibly on a 10 X15 cookie sheet. You may need to dip your fingers in flour occasionally to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.
4. When the dough is as even as possible, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough, pressing the chips in slightly.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to brown and the center is set. Cut into squares while still hot, but do not remove from the pan until the cookies are completely cool.
Makes about 48 squares.