Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chocolate Shortbread for a GNI

Thanks to the television show The Office, I can no longer hear the term “Girls' Night Out” without thinking of one particular episode of the show and one of the more memorable (in my mind) Office quotes. One of the women in the office is getting married, and the female employees throw her a worktime bridal shower, which is joked about as their “Girls' Night Out.” Of course, a lunchtime party with co-workers is not normally what many think about as “Girls' Night Out,” and is does not turn out to be: in fact, the presentation given by a Ben Franklin impersonator isn't what many people consider entertaining or enjoyable at all. But, The Office manages to make it both, and the following exchange is what always come to my mind when the phrase “Girls' Night Out” is uttered around me.
Angela says: “You know this is a luncheon shower. Girls only.”
And Michael, her boss, responds with, “No problem. The guys are having a little shindig of their own in the warehouse. From 2:30 to 3:15. That is the only time that Bob was available. Sort of a guys' night out. A 'G-N-O' if you will. A 'gno.' Actually it's more of a guys' afternoon in. A G-A-I. A gay. Not-- not... it's uh, not gay. It's, uh, just uh, it's a bridal shower for guys. A guy shower. An hour long shower with guys.”
So this week, when my roommate and I hosted a relaxing “Girls' Night In” at our place, my mind immediately jumped to this quote, and I giggled endlessly to myself as I baked the Chocolate Shortbread cookies for our GNI.
And the cookies were a lighter, smaller dessert selection to top off the full table of tapas that we snacked on into the evening. Additionally, they were easily handled while lounging in the living room, watching a movie. I found just one cookie to be the perfect end to a larger group dinner, with a powerful chocolate taste that left me, and the others, very satisfied.

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


2 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the butter is fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add sugar, and beat about 2 minutes until very light in color, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla, blend, then add flour mixture, mixing until the flour is just incorporated and the dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers. Form dough into a flattened disk, wrap in plastic, and chill until firm (at least 1 hour).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with vegetable oil.
Using a spoon, form dough into 1-inch balls; place on prepared baking sheets. Bake until firm, 20-22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with cocoa powder just before serving.

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