Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to Make Christmas Shortbread Mice.

     "Cute" doesn't begin to describe these festive little creatures and "onerous" doesn't start to describe the work involved in making them. Do you really want to hear the entire step-by-step process? Right, you asked for it.
      The night before.... mouse-making, the recipe told me to make my shortbread dough. Easy-peasy. Whack some butter into the Cuisinart, add flour, vanilla and egg, and it all turns into a single perfect ball of dough, ready to rest in the fridge overnight. 
      Except that it didn't. 
     It was more like fine shingle on a Norfolk beach. Gravelly anyway. My fault entirely. Mea culpa, ten times over. I'd only seen the word "butter" in the recipe, and not the term "softened." This had come straight from the freezer. Thinking fast but not very sensibly, I beat up another egg, and threw about half of it into the dough, which appeared to help. 
     Except that it didn't, as I found out the next evening. 
     Initially the dough felt alright. Though a bit sticky, I could still shape it into mice. I indented the eye sockets, stuck in two delicate pieces of almond for ears, did that 20 times and placed the baking sheet in the preheated oven.  
      And....as I watched....as the warmth hit them....they slowly spread into primeval flattish shapes. Mouse roadkill. 
      We ate them. I didn't bother with applying ickle chocolate eyes and noses (melt a chocolate bar; use a toothpick) but I did use the first batch to practice my tail insertion skills. (Poke skewer up mouse's derrière while it's still warm and insert length of licorice.)
      Made with properly softened butter, the second batch went better...

    Still not sure if I'd make them again. But it's seeded the idea for a separate post on how the world is divided into those who bake and those who don't. 

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