Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beautiful Bliss with Butter - and a Gay Lea Giveaway!

With Christmas season fast approaching (eek!) I know my mom and I are scouring the grocery stores each week looking for the best deals on butter. I'm pretty sure that, in baking alone (mostly shortbreads too!), we are probably responsible for using up the dairy output of an entire cow during the month of December. Last year - not a word of a lie - we burned through seven pounds of butter in our shortbread marathons and our two loaves of intensely rich (but oh so freaking good) Holiday Brioche. That is a lot of butter. Considering that as a whole our family uses maybe one pound of the stuff throughout the rest of the year, it's almost gluttonous to think of the exponential upswing in our fat intake in just 31 days!

But you have to admit, butter has that undeniable feel-good factor inside. As healthy as it may be, you don't get a comforting feeling from toast drizzled with olive oil and cinnamon! Any baker knows that there is a world of difference too between a cake with a bland shortening base and one made from rich, creamy butter. The one recipe I will never ever swap out the real stuff in are my mom's shortbreads - and for good reason. They work. They taste great. And they're cookies - if you want health food at Christmas, you'll have better luck chewing on some organic pine tree bark as a Christmas snack!

Usually the shortbreads we make around this time of year are just that - plain, vanilla, no-fuss butter and icing sugar concoctions. No chocolate, nuts or fruit to mess with the velvety texture. Then the folks at Gay Lea - a great butter producer in Ontario - sent me a few rather unusual recipes for the treat: a savoury Chipotle & White Cheddar Shortbread Cracker, and some ooey-gooey-delicious Banana Coconut Cream Shortbread Stacks. While I dont think I can ever convince mom to use these in place of her coveted prize-winners, I can't wait to give them a whirl myself!

Both recipes and photographs courtesy of

Chipotle & White Cheddar Shortbread Crackers
Makes about 84
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp superfine sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups cold Gay Lea Unsalted Butter, cubed
1 cup grated, aged white Cheddar cheese

  1. Pulse the flour with the cornstarch, sugar, chipotle pepper and salt in a food processor.
  2. Add the butter and cheese; pulse until the mixture comes together.
  3. Divide the dough into two portions and form into a rectangular log, about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick by 2-inches (5 cm) wide.
  4. Chill for at least 1 hour or until firm enough to slice easily.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and arrange the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  6. Slice the logs 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake, in batches and rotating the sheets halfway through baking, for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool completely on a rack.

Banana Coconut Cream Shortbread Stacks
Makes 8
1 cup softened Gay Lea Unsalted Butter
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (approx.)
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 egg
1/2 cup toasted unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp Gay Lea Unsalted Butter
1 tbsp dark rum or 1 tsp vanilla extract

3 bananas, sliced thinly
Gay Lea Real Whipped Cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
  2. Beat the butter with the sugar and vanilla until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the flour and salt until combined.
  4. Form the dough into a disk; chill for 45 minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough, on a lightly floured surface, about 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick.
  6. Use a 2 1/2-inch (6 cm) round cutter to cut out 24 circles (re-roll scraps as needed). Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake, in batches, for 20 minutes or until pale golden. Cool completely on a rack.
  1. Meanwhile, whisk the milk with the sugar and cornstarch in a large, heavy saucepan set over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  2. Beat a little of the hot milk mixture with the egg.
  3. Whisk the warmed egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture.
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thickened.
  5. Remove from the heat, stir in the coconut, butter and rum.
  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the custard; cool completely.
  1. Centre 8 cookies on serving plates. Top each with an equal portion of the custard and banana slices.
  2. Repeat layers once and top with a final cookie.
  3. Just before serving, garnish with whipped cream, toasted coconut and additional banana slices.

If you pop onto the Shortbread Bliss website, you'll get a chance to enter into a draw for a rediculous grand prize: a Hamilton Beach® Countertop Oven, ChefPrepTM Food Processor, Classic Metal Hand/Stand Mixer, Ensemble 12 Cup Coffeemaker and a 1.7 Litre Cordless Dome Kettle.

And speaking of prizes - Gay Lea has also been kind enough to sponsor a little giveaway for me to do as well! How would you like to get a jump-start on your holiday baking with a goodie basket filled with $60 (CDN) of cookie-baking bounty? I have one basket to give out to someone in Ontario only (sorry guys - that's where Gay Lea is located!) that includes:
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post answering this question: What is your favourite recipe (sweet or savoury) that your family makes every year around the holidays that you don't make any other time of the year? I'd love to build up my traditional holiday cookbook!

You have until 11:59 PM on November 21 (so a week from today) to get your comments in! The winner will be chosen at random and I'll reveal the results by November 24. Good luck and happy baking!


  1. Hi Sarah,
    Yes last years bake off use a lot of butter, but they tasted so, so good, even weeks later.
    Gaye lea really does have the best butter & Metro or Shoppers usually have it & cream cheese on sale for 2bucks, so keep your eyes peeled on your flyers Ok?
    The chipotle shortbread really do sound good, must try those.
    Also wondering if there is a flourless version of shortbread somewhere?

    My family makes candied yams. Basically they are smashed sweet potatoes (made the same way as regular) with nutmeg & cinnamon added then topped with those small melting marshmallows. Warm till brown, serve hot.

    Great contest and hope all is well.

  2. The recipe we always make at the holidays is Mayan Chocolate Sparklers. They are chocolate crinkle cookies with pepper and cayenne, rolled in granulated sugar. My brother is addicted to them and the only time Mom has made them outside the holidays was when she made him a care package for his move to college.

  3. Great giveaway. I have to say what I always make at Christmas but never at any other time through the year is biscotti. I find it too time consuming for your everyday treat but love giving it away as gifts!

  4. I'm sure there will be a few cringes when I say this but my favourite holiday treat is....fruitcake! But not the traditional kind. My grandmother's recipe involves swapping all of the icky candied fruit for a cool variety of dried fruit (dried cherries, plums, light and dark raisins, blueberries....the options are endless). All the taste without the disgusting ingredients in candied fruit!

  5. Does Gay Lea know how much butter I use...oh the brioches and the cakes I could make with three months of butter.

    Favourite recipe? My mother makes a killer mashed potato casserole at Christmas: Potatoes, garlic and chives and more butter, cream cheese and cheddar that we want to know about.

    I'm also known for making a well-loved gingerbread trifle.

  6. The latest holiday tradition is making these super easy fruitcake bars:

    People always laugh at fruitcake but one year I had a craving and thought these bars would be a great alternative. I can't wait to make my first batch of the year!

    Great contest!


Thanks for the feedback!