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Gay Lea Butter Giveaway

Sometimes it can be hard to see the good recipe trees through the forest that is a food trend.  One such annoying meme is the idea that men like any food more if it has bacon in it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon, but I will probably still not like a vanilla cupcake with bacon crumble on top.  This means I’m skeptical of recipes that describe their product as “man food”.

When I was sent a package from Gay Lea that is part of their shortbread bliss campaign I managed to put this skepticism aside because one of the two recipes (that described itself as man food) was for Chipotle & White Cheddar Shortbread Crackers.  I have never made shortbread cookies, in part because they also seem a little monochromatic so the idea of creating an appetiser that is instead cheesy and spicy intrigued me. 

I ran into a major hurdle when testing the recipe.  Buried in the “tips” section is a note that up to three tablespoons of water will be needed to bring the dough together.  This absolutely should be noted in both the ingredients list (as 3 TB water) and in the instructions.  My dough didn’t really come together even with almost all of the water included so what I did (and recommend you do as well) is stop your food processor and squeeze a handful of dough tightly together.  If, when released, it doesn’t have any major cracks you’ve added enough water and can wrap and refrigerate the dough.

The dough goes into the fridge to firm up before being cut into rectangles

Unfortunately, the recipe also commits the major sin of stating volume measurements for ingredients that should be listed by weight.  In fact it does it with three of the seven ingredients.  I don’t care if I remind readers of the character from the Simpsons singing The Old Gray Mare song, I will never tire of haranguing recipe writers to provide weight measurements for compactible ingredients (flour, grated cheese), those whose crystals vary by size or shape (salt), and ones that are difficult to measure (butter, peanut butter, molasses).

The crackers before being baked. The top photo is the baked crackers.

I hope it’s obvious that given these difficulties I wouldn’t be writing about these crackers if they didn’t taste excellent.  The spicy smokiness from the ground chipotle powder (mine came from Toronto’s Spice Trader) is the lead singer here but is complemented admirably by the assertive cheddar flavour.  The refined crispness from the shortbread texture that butter and flour create is a welcome percussion backing.

I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you give the recipe, available through the Shortbread Bliss site, a shot.  These crackers would be a great holiday appetiser but what I’m also after right now is an interesting Christmas cookie recipe.  I’m partial to my mother’s sugar cookies but I’d like to try something different this year and I’m hoping you’ll share some ideas with me.  As an incentive we’re holding the first-ever Food With Legs giveaway.

The winner will get a Gay Lea Giveaway basket which includes: a three-month supply of Gay Lea butter, a rolling pin, cookie cutters, a coupon for Redpath sugar, an Egg Whites coupon, cookie recipes, shortbread tips, and a Gay Lea tin.  To enter give your favourite Christmas cookie a name and briefly describe it in a comment on this post before noon EST, Saturday, December 4, 2010.  No need to post a full recipe but the description that most intrigues me and makes me want to make that cookie will win.  Winners must be a resident of Ontario.  Type your email address in the usual field when leaving your comment and if you win I’ll get in touch to get your mailing information so that the prize can be sent to you.

Update: I have been informed that the Gay Lea recipes follow the recipe style set by the Canadian Press and Canadian Living which only call for metric and imperial volume measures.  I hope it didn’t seem like I was singling these out as the only ones with this problem–see my self-deprecating implication that I’m a pant-less old man singing like a broken record.  Standarised recipes are useful to a point but we have to make sure that the standards are appropriately up-to-date.  The good news is that we now know who to lobby to get this changed.

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Posted in: Baking.

14 Comments

  1. Moe says:

    Slightly salty lemon drop cookies

  2. Steve Wilson says:

    Bit of a story to this one. When I was a kid, my Nan in North Bay was the most amazing cookie baker. Incredible oatmeal, spectacular shortbread, etc.. But, there was one cookie that I loved above all the others. She baked a crisp, buttery molasses cookie that I would happily walk from Toronto to North Bay for. Not too sweet, and incredibly deep in flavour. A few years ago, my Nan passed away, and though a few family members claimed to have the recipe, their cookies were never the same as her’s.

    Last week, I was called to Northern Ontario because my other grandmother, my Granny, had taken very ill. I sat with her for hours and held her hand while she slept. A few hours after I left, I stopped in North Bay to visit with my aunt. While I was there, I got a call letting me know that my Granny was gone. As I sat on the couch crying, my aunt went to the freezer and brought me back a cookie. She had done it. It was perfect. For that one moment, my grandmothers were both with me. It is still the most amazing cookie I have ever tasted, and all the more so now.

  3. Mary says:

    I make lots of cookies for the holidays, so it’s hard to choose a favourite. Last year, one of the most popular was a spritz cookie spiced with cardamom and topped with chopped pistachios and coarse sugar. They were attractive, buttery and delicate, but fast to make with the cookie press. Oh, and there was no bacon involved!

  4. Lynn Smith says:

    My favorite cookie without a doubt has to be my mom’s Oatmeal Cookies. Walking up the driveway after school we could smell them and they would always be ready when we got home from school. In fact the neighbourhood kids would all be there with their hands out. My best friend still asks me if mom makes her cookies. They are a dropped cookie and did not spread on the pan but the taste of cinnamon and coconut and they make a crunch when you bite into them and then melt in your mouth. Mom is famous for her baked goods and at 84 she is still doing the Christmas baking and the other goodies. When people ask how is your mom…they always add..is she still baking them cookies….yummy.

  5. Stephanie says:

    My ultimate Christmas cookie recipe is my great-grandmother’s Christmas Spritz Cookies. The dough is almost like shortbread but instead of butter, you use honest-to-god shortening. It’s also scented with heavenly almond extract. I made these last year for a cookie exchange and I was horrified buying a big block of hydrogenated animal fat! But then I made the dough (and took a little taste) and I remembered why it just isn’t Christmas without these cookies. Once the dough is done, you divide it into bowls and use several garish shades of food colouring to tint the dough, and then spritz them onto sheets using a cookie press. Then the sprinkles and candied fruit come out and it’s a decorating extravaganza. I always end with the best cookie: the rainbow ribbon, which is made up of all the leftover dough and decorations (most Pride floats are more tasteful than that cookie). They’re over-the-top, decadent and delicious – just like Christmas.

  6. Jonathan C says:

    I don’t have a compelling story, but I’d say that the best way to showcase the flavour of butter would be with a classic shortbread recipe. A recipe with chipotle puts the focus on the spice, but with shortbread it’s the butter that makes the cookie.

    For me, the hardest part about shortbread is choosing the recipe. My parents used to make two different versions – my mom made her mother’s English recipe, while my dad baked his mother’s Scottish version. The former is crumbly while the latter is much harder, but both are quite delicious.

  7. Mary Ann says:

    How I love changing up shortbreads! I’ve made some yummy versions with Herbes de Provence, Chai spices, curry, garlic & Parmesan but my favourites are what I call ‘Elf Shortbreads’.
    I remember seeing a commercial with those cookie-making elves who put a chocolate rosebud on top of a cookie. I took that idea a step further by adding Skor toffee bits to the shortbread, rolling into balls and flattening with a rosebud before baking. Not only yummy but not a plain, monochromatic cookie.
    But Steve – what a sweet & endearing story. Food memories are the best!

  8. Biscotti would be up there with my favourite Christmas cookies but if we’re talking butter, nothing beats my nana’s shortbread dipped in semi-sweet chocolate. Pure bliss!

  9. [...] measuring by weight is easier, cleaner, and more consistent.  I understand from my post about the shortbread recipes and the butter giveaway I’m currently running that it is the Canadian Press style that sets the standard for [...]

  10. Kat says:

    Not exactly a cookie but uses a whole lot of butter, Blondies!

  11. Elizabeth Mittler says:

    My favorite is an iced fresh apple spice cookie. Second favorite whipped shortbread

  12. foodwithlegs says:

    I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who entered this first ever Food With Legs contest. All of you had great ideas supported by compelling stories and given an infinite amount of time (and butter) I’d have to try them all. But, of course, there can only be one winner and that honour goes to Steve Wilson. Thanks, Steve, for sharing your story with us and I hope you’ll also share your grandmother’s molasses cookie recipe.

  13. Mary Pong says:

    Years ago, I believe it was Gaylea that offered recipe cards in the grocery stores with cookie recipes. There was a Whipped Shortbread recipe that was made with rice flour and butter and it practically melts in your mouth. Everyone that has tried it has liked it and unfortunately, I have misplaced the recipe and have been searching the websites for the recipe and have been unable to find it. I have been making those cookies every year for more than 10 years and I would like to continue making them. There was also a recipe for Scottish Shortbread on the same card. If anyone has the recipe, I would love to get a copy!

  14. [...] I criticised the recipes in my Gay Lea Butter post their PR rep politely pointed out that they were just following the lead set by CP and Canadian [...]

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