A few weeks ago I made the brilliant decision to watch Paranormal Activity 2. I’m normally not one for sequels since they are generally not very well done and seem to be rushed to meet the demand, causing a sloppy product, and this sequel was no exception. But it was a stormy Florida summer day — which could have been any Florida summer day, really — and it just felt right.
It stopped feeling right really fast. Halfway through the film I got painfully bored and brought my computer into the kitchen to watch this monstrosity of a movie while I baked. This kind of detracts from really being immersed into the “suspense” of it, but what else are you going to do when you’re hungry, have adult ADHD and don’t believe in ghosts?
My baking recipes by default are usually confectioneries, but when I felt a little ripple of human gelatin wobble in my lower back region, I hesitated. But if we’re being honest, it didn’t really hinder me from making something sweet (what’s an ounce or two chub anyway?), but I decided to be fair to myself and compromised a little bit.
See, I love shortbread. It’s has the weighted, biscuity consistency of a proper scone and can be either savory or sweet which makes it versatile in terms of what you do with it. On this particular day, slathering it with pastry cream and stuffing it with fresh strawberries was what felt most right.
The custard I used for the filling and the glaze is what sweetens the shortbread the most. It’s made very simply with egg yolks, milk, flour, sugar, half a scraped vanilla bean and a just little bit of unflavored gelatin because a) flour as a lone thickening agent doesn’t work here, so it would be too runny without it and b) I hate horses. But not really.
The overall creation was super easy and didn’t take much effort to complete and assemble. Also, I may or may not have had four slices of the finished product while impatiently waiting for the movie to end (don’t finish what you can’t start, right?), but I wouldn’t ever admit to something like that. Upon finishing the alleged fourth slice of shortbread a large bolt of lightning struck right outside my kitchen window like a jerk, which made me to jump and bite my tongue and also caused my power to go out.
It’s funny how much quiet you can hear when the hum of generators or air conditioning isn’t clouding up the atmosphere. It’s also funny how many creepy as shit things you can hear when your power is out, it’s post-dusk, and you just finished watching Paranormal Activity.
Man, I shouldn’t have had that fourth piece.
Custard Filled Shortbread
Time: 2 1/2 hours total
Ingredients & Directions:
For the shortbread:
- 2 1/4 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup butter or shortening
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup heavy cream, half and half or milk
- 1tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven at 425 degrees.
- In a large bowl mix together dry ingredients. Using your hands, cut in butter until well-mixed. The mixture should look like course crumbs at this point. In a separate bowl mix together egg, heavy cream and vanilla.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet, and stir together until just combined.
- Pour batter into a lightly greased and floured cake pan, spreading and evening out mixture with a spatula.
- Bake for 15 minutes and place on cooling rack.
For the custard:
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 1/2 vanilla bean, insides scraped or 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp flour
- 1 packet (2.5 tsp) of unflavored gelatin
- In a medium, heat-proof bowl mix together the salt, egg yolks, flour and 1/4 cup of sugar until well combined, about 2 to 3 minutes and set aside.
- In a medium sauce pan, heat up the milk, vanilla and the rest of the sugar until just boiling and remove from heat.
- Stirring constantly, SLOWLY drizzle the hot milk into the yolk mixture, making sure to not add too much at once and cook the yolks, until 1/2 the milk is combined with the eggs.
- Add the egg mixture to the pan with the rest of the milk and heat over medium high heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes or until it thickens and remove from heat.
- Dissolve gelatin in 1 tbsp hot water and add mixture to the custard, stirring well.
- Transfer to a large bowl and cover directly with plastic wrap so it is touching the top of the custard and allow to cool on the counter.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until thoroughly chilled and has thickened up.
Carefully cut cooled shortbread in half, fill with desired amount of custard and serve with desired fruit.