Monday, February 25, 2013

Brown Sugar Shortbread: The Traveling Cookie

When we travel for more than a couple of hours or if we are going to be out for an all day event, I usually bring some sort of hand-held foods for us to have as a meal or part of a meal.  Most everything I bring has to meet my restrictions.

  • Must be manageable independently by anyone 18mo and older.
  • No drip-able liquids or semi-liquids.
  • Must be easy to pass over seats to get to the back of the van OR be stored in a group container that can be passed this way.
  • No food colorings, greasy surfaces or very sugary surfaces (to keep clothing clean).
  • No chocolate or other things melty.
  • Cheap-cheap, cheap or pretty cheap.

I have a list of options that actually work with these restrictions, too!

  • Sausage biscuits: It's my friend's recipe. Find it by clicking HERE!
  • Cheese sticks: Make your own from a block of cheese and stick 'em all in a plastic bag.
  • Bananas
  • Dehydrated fruit: Do your own or be sure to get the kind that isn't rolled in sugar. That's sticky!
  • Crackers: Non-flaky, thin, wheat/multi-grain crackers are my goto. (Off brand cuz I'm cheap.)
  • Water: Bring extra.  You might need it.

This is usually all we really need for variety.  I pick volumes based on what we are really doing.  If we are to spend the day at the zoo walking all over creation, then I pack more.  If it's just driving the five hours to Grandma's house I don't pack as much.  We're just sitting there in the van anyway.

Since I have the no melty chocolate rule and I travel with The Man, there usually needs to be a sweet treat.  Our family favorite cookie at home is a perfect chocolate chip cookie with pecans but for the road we go with Brown Sugar Shortbreads.  Just the right sort of brown sugar sweet without all that stain-the-toddler's-shirt potential.

Brown Sugar Shortbread
makes enough for 15 passenger van full for 4 -6 hour drive

Cream 2 cups softened butter and 1 cup brown sugar til light and fluffy.  

Stir in 4.5 cups flour. Mix well.  This isn't super easy.  I don't recommend using an electric mixer here though.  I always overmix when I do use a mixer on this step. Then the cookies get tough from working the gluten fibers in the flour longer than needed. (Pardon the temporary geeking there. Or maybe you should just get used to it.  Either way.) 

On a clean, lightly floured surface (you can use the flour in the bowl that just won't cooperate with mixing in), knead until smooth.  Less than a minute usually.

Divide in half. With each half, pat/roll into a ~8in by 11in rectangle on a lightly floured surface.  I just use one of my cutting boards.  Works slick and makes cutting easier.

Cut into 2in by 1in rectangles with a pizza cutter.  (Find a 7 or 8 year old to do this job.)  Have toddler prick with fork.  (Don't look too closely.  Remember that the immune system grows stronger with repeated exposure to bacteria found naturally in your environment.)  Place on ungreased cookie sheets.  

Repeat with other half of dough.  I can get each of the halves onto 2 sheets so I have 4 sheets total going through the oven two sheets at a time.

Bake at 300* (Yup.  That's low.)  15 minutes - switch the sheets around on the racks - 10 minutes more.  Just til the bottoms are lightly browned.  They don't really look browned at all on top.  Cool 5 min on the sheets before removing to cooling racks.

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