Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Whatever You Fancy" Shortbread Bars.

I have a poetic adoration of shortbread. I feel that while cupcakes might be fine for paintings, shortbread brings about the sort of inspiration that would bring one to create Byronic odes in honor of it's quintessence. It's amazing by itself with tea, or dipped into drinking chocolate, and makes the perfect base for all kinds of other delicious confections.

Shortbread is a natural beauty, made with little effort and few ingredients. But through the alchemy of heat and love they all combine to birth a lascivious, addictive personality.

The following recipe is one of my own creation with the base adapted from Gale Gand. These were created as a quick way to make something for my Uncle that was "lemony".  What I like is that they can be baked up to feature anyone's favorite flavor, making the recipient feel just a little special for having been thought of. These in particular have been made with homemade strawberry quick jam, since I had a ton left over after a late May influx. However, feel free to use any good preserves or curd that you might have lying around. I particularly like Bonne Maman preserves and Dickinson's Lemon Curd. 

 Strawberry Shortbread Bars 

2 cups strawberry jam, or any other filling you might like to use. 
5 sticks of salted sweet cream butter, softened to room temperature.
1 cup packed light brown sugar.
4 1/2 cups AP flour. 
1/2 cup of cornstarch.
1 tablespoon vanilla puree.
1 tablespoon cinnamon. 
5 tablespoons of demerara or raw sugar. Granulated white if you have neither. 

French whisk.
2 bowls. 
Baking sheet. 
Silpat or Parchment Paper. 
Hand mixer. 

And away we go...
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and either lay down the silpat or liberally butter and line a 12 inch by 17-18 inch by 1 inch high baking sheet. 
In one bowl combine the cornstarch, flour, and cinnamon with a whisk and set to the side. In the other cream together the sugar, butter, and vanilla puree. When they've become incorporated add the dry goods in a little bit at a time until it's a wet sticky sort of mess. Then turn it out into a floured work surface and knead a bit until it forms a ball.

Take a little more than half of the dough and press it into the band so that it's roughly 1/2 inch high and even, then dimple it gently with your fingertips and spread the jam on evenly. Feel free to use your discretion here and use more or less depending on your tastes.

Take the remainder of the shortbread and crumble it over the top in a sporadic kind of way, and set it into the oven to bake for about 20 minutes. Knock it once against the rack, and then check again ever 5 minutes or so until the top is gently browned and the jam appears a bit sticky. 

Sprinkle the top with the sugar so it gets nice and sparkly, let it cool about 15-20 minutes in the pan and then cut into squares. Don't be hasty, the jam is like fucking napalm when it comes out of the over. When completely cool remove and set into an airtight container.

(P.S.  I'm obviously new at this, so if you have any opinions or thoughts on what I could do to improve these recipes.. Feel free to let me know in the comments.)

1 comment:

  1. Blog looks great!! Now that I have an oven I can actually use this stuff too. Yay! Plus, reading things other than crap for school rocks. Keep it up. :)

    <3 Maggie