Tuesday, December 15, 2009

holiday spice

Oh hai. I'm back. I still have no stove, but I do have an oven. So when Bosslady decided that we should have 12 days of cookies in the office I was happy to say that I could actually participate despite my partially crippled kitchen.

I decided to use my colleagues - who really, will eat pretty much anything as long as it's free - as guinea pigs for a little cookie experimenting. I've been wanting to play around with some fun flavors and spices for the holidays and here was my opportunity. The best base to play around with is, in my opinion, the simple shortbread cookie. Perhaps that is because it is my favorite kind of cookie. 90% butter.

One flavor combination that has been floating around in my head is inspired by the Indian ice cream Kulfi. Pistachio, cardamom, and a touch of rose. Now, both cardamom and rose are rather strong flavors that are perhaps less familiar to the average American palate. So I was a little conservative with my amounts, and found myself wanting much deeper flavor. Next time, I think I can even double the amounts of both and still not go overboard, but of course it's a matter of taste.

But nevertheless, I started to worry that my strange cookie experiments would disappoint my colleagues, who just want some holiday cookies. So I made a second batch of shortbread, this time with a somewhat more straightforward flavor - Earl Grey Tea. This is a recipe from my good friend Claire, and when she made this in season 1 of her show, I took home as many as possible. Addictive. The touch of citrus, the smokiness of tea, it is a perfect balance of flavors.

Shortbread is such an easy cookie to play around with, you'll see with these recipes how easy it is to swap out flavors and try something new. Plus, making these in the slice and bake style means you can actually whip up the dough days ahead of time and keep the logs in the freezer until you're ready to bake. And with a food processor the dough itself is the work of minutes. Now there are no excuses, you can't resort to buying pre-made cookie dough any more. Recipes after the jump:


1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom (if using pre-ground you may want to increase this amount to a heaping teaspoon)
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons rosewater
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

In a food processor, process the pistachios into small pieces. You don't want to process too long if you like some bits of pistachio in the finished product. Add the flour, salt, and cardamom and pulse until well combined. Add the sugar, rosewater, and butter and pulse just until the dough comes together. Turn dough out on to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap well and store in the fridge for an hour until firm. You can also store in the freezer for a few days.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and slice into 1/4 inch rounds. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes until just starting to brown around the edges. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Recipe 5 Ingredient Fix with Claire Robinson

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, tea, and salt, until the tea is just spotted throughout the flour. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and butter. Pulse together just until a dough is formed. Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll into a log, about 2 1/2-inches in diameter. Tightly twist each end of wrap, and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the log into 1/4-inch thick disks. Place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart (2 probably needed depending on size of sheets). Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool to room temperature.


pinkie said...

The earl grey tea cookies look very good!! And I think they are delicous!! I love shortbreads but I never tasted them with tea flavour, it's a very good idea!!

David said...

Hmmmm thats delicious ..... I made such cookies at home...I put some patan ghee in it and the taste really improved...