I’ve launched my fifth menu at Italian by Night. I think that it is the best to date. Each time a new menu is introduced I get the biggest kick out of our servers. They stand quietly watching me plate each new dish and when it is finished they gasp a little. It’s adorable!
My dessert on the Christmas menu is a spin on tartufo. Liz has been after me for a while to put it on the menu. I resisted until now. The dessert is really a giant profiterole served with candy cane ice cream and hot fudge sauce. I wanted a warm chocolate coating instead of the hard coating on a classic tartufo. Near the end of the evening our three servers ordered one to split. As I looked over at them watching me prepare their treat, they reminded me of three baby birds. Each one of them completely absorbed in their thoughts of pouncing on the candy cane ice cream smothered in warm chocolate fudge sauce. They devoured their ‘tartufu di Natale’ and proclaimed it the best dessert to date. I realized at that moment one of the things that I love most about working at the restaurant is spending time with young women around the age of my girls. I enjoy their banter, their curiosity for life and their generous attitudes. It fills me up!
At home I am starting to prepare for our Christmas party. When we were in New York last week, I picked up some Bensdorp cocoa at Dean and Delucca. Some girls buy clothes and baubles when they travel, I buy food! I couldn’t resist the lovely large squatty tin canister. I am such a sucker for packaging! I wanted to try the cocoa so I started my party prep with a dark rich chocolate shortbread.
I have a clay pottery shortbread mold that I use for Ralph’s Christmas shortbread. I always make him his own cookie tin full to the top which he does not share. It has something to do with growing up in a family of seven! The pattern is lovely and the clay produces a perfectly baked cookie.
After the cookie is baked and partially cooled, it is cut into eight pieces then cooled completely so that they can be stored until needed. I freeze mine to keep Ralph from eating them all before Christmas day.
Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Preheat oven 325*F
Makes 8 large cookies
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons best quality cocoa
1/2 cup icing powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
Whip the butter – using your stand mixer or a hand mixer
Add icing sugar, cocoa and vanilla – beat well
Add flour – if you have a stand mixer blend flour until completely incorporated and batter pulls away from the bowl. You can also knead the flour in by hand until the dough is smooth.
Spray cookie mold lightly with a non stick spray.
Press dough into the mold using the heel of your hand so that the dough has a smooth look
Prick the entire surface with a fork
Place in upper third of oven and bake for 30 minutes
Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Allow to cool in the mold for 10 minutes
Loosen edges with a butter knife then invert onto a cutting board
Using a sharp knife, cut the shortbread into cookies following the pattern of your mold or the size you would like to serve.
Place the cookies back on cooling rack to cool completely
Store in a well sealed container and freeze until needed
THE LOVE: I make for than one batch at a time but I only have one shortbread mold. It’s critical to allow the mold to cool completely between batches so that your dough does not start melting while you are pushing it into place. The mold does not need to be cleaned between batches.
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