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.
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).
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.