Thursday, January 26, 2012
The cricket's on in the living room, the barbie's fired up outside. Hot sun, cool drinks. It's summer in Queensland and it's sweltering. Today? Meltingly so.
We hang outside when we can stand it, sweating even though we're sitting down in the shade. We watch lizards skitter through the garden. We can practically feel the recent rain evaporating from surfaces around us.
Time to pull some shortbread out of the freezer.
Ok. I'm a huge advocate of freezing cookies ... both as a self-preservation mechanism, and because I love the chewy resistance that freezing imparts to them.
But until this week I'd never tried frozen shortbread.
Man oh man.
I made a batch of macadamia and ginger shortbreads before Christmas, and stored some away for the New Year. The recipe was modified from a supermarket (Coles, I think) cooking magazine my mother-in-law casually dropped in my lap one day ... with an offhand comment about this interesting shortbread recipe.
I immediately loved it. In part, because I love butter. But macadamias and ginger are two of my favourite things (other than butter), they synergise, and they're grown locally. (Oh yes, I live in *paradise* ... when it's not raining torentially ...)
Of course, I had to modify the recipe. Here's my version.
20 min prep + 40 min baking
100g macadamia paste
250g softened lightly-salted butter
1/2 cup raw sugar, blitzed in a grinder or blender to make it finer
2 1/4 cups plain unbleached flour, sifted
1/2 cup brown rice flour, sifted
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 heaping Tbs chopped ginger in syrup
*Try to use organic when you can, and the quality of the butter is *really* important for these. Better quality butter = yummier shortbreads.
1. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F). Line a 10x12" baking tray with baking paper. Really you can use any kind of tray that has edges and that's about 25cm or 10" on each side.
2. Cream together the macadamia paste, butter and sugar until it's well-mixed and lightened in colour. Add the flours - being sure that you've sifted them (or at least shaken them a bit) for lightness - and gently mix them into the butter/sugar with a wooden spoon. Gently. Use your hands to add the gingers (both fresh and syrupy) into the dough, kneading very very gently.
NOTE: Lightness is everything in shortbreads. Gentleness = lightness.
3. Press the dough evenly into the baking pan and use a knife to score slices in it. I prefer small squares, but really you can cut the dough however you like. You cut it now because when it's cooked it'll be super-crumbly, and you want to at least have a head-start on slicing. Use a fork to prick holes all across the top surface of the dough (so it doesn't puff up).
4. Bake for 35-40 min, until the top is firm (but not rock-hard) and lightly golden. Take it out of the oven, let it cool for 10 min and cut into slices. Eat some now, and the rest? stick 'em in the freezer.
NOTE: Serve straight out of the freezer, cold and chewy and buttery.
The walking stick is purely optional.
A batch of organic shortbreads costs ~$9-$10 here in Australia.
I wrote this post as part of a virtual potluck with the crew and contributors of the lovely site Gojee! If you're keen to see some other lovely food ... check out www.gojee.com and enter gojeepotluck into "I crave". You can also follow #gojeepotluck on Twitter.
Have a great rest of the week!