Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tea For Two Cookies with Cumin Shortbread Recipe
Note: The pic above is Tea For Two Shortbread Cookies
Cumin Shortbread Wedges
In this spin on traditional Scottish shortbread, renowned Miami pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith found the butter-rich tender, crumbly cookie is the perfect vehicle for the slight bittersweet, warm, peppery bite of toasted cumin seeds. Honey adds a special sweetness and the cornstarch in the confectioners’ sugar insures a very tender cookie. In Scotland shortbread was traditionally only made for Christmas as they were supposed to represent golden pastry suns for the winter solstice. They were cut into wedges called petticoats, as they resembled the bell-hoop petticoats worn by 12th century ladies. In India a type of shortbread called para is made from a mixture of chickpea flour and wheat flour, butter, melted palm sugar and spices with a spicy caramel flavor and firm, yet soft crumbling texture. They are not bad, but hard to find fresh as they are usually sold in packets. When Hedy’s shortbread comes out of the oven, it is hard to resist waiting for the big round to cool long enough to cut along the scores and devour a warm, cumin-laced petticoat. Serve these large wedge-shaped treats with chai (milky spiced tea) for an afternoon snack or as a sweet ending to a spicy meal.
6 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), slightly softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
4 tablespoons honey
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt crystals
1 1/4 tablespoons cumin seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
Granulated sugar for dusting
MIXING THE DOUGH. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and add the confectioners’ sugar, honey and salt. Using a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or hand held mixer), beat on medium speed until pale yellow and light, about 2 to 3 minutes. Sift the flour and baking powder together into another mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture with the cumin seeds to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined and transfer to a flour-dusted work surface. Knead the dough lightly until it holds together, about 2 to 3 minutes. Divide into two balls about 3 inches wide.
ROLLING OUT THE DOUGH AND BAKING THE SHORTBREAD. Position oven racks on the rungs in the lower third and middle of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper into 15 x 12-inch pieces. Press a ball of dough between your palms to slightly flatten and place it on a sheet of parchment paper on a hard work surface. Place another sheet of parchment on top. Roll the dough out into an 8 to 9 inch circle about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick (the edges will be a little thicker than the center). Trim the scraggly edges with a knife, cutting away about half an inch (discard scraps or use to make small cookies). With a knife, cut the circle into 8 wedges like cutting a pie. Using a fork, press the outer edges, leaving small tine marks. Dust with granulated sugar and sprinkle with extra cumin seeds. Slide the parchment paper with the cut cookie dough on a baking sheet. Use the other two sheets of parchment to roll out, trim, and cut the other ball of dough. Slide the baking sheets onto the oven and bake until lightly browned, about 35-40 minutes. Carefully cut over the marks again while still soft and warm and cool completely. Slide the wedges apart. Store in an airtight container up to a week in a dry cool place (but not the fridge).