Friday, November 7, 2014

Honey Shortbread

Although cookies are loved and appreciated any time of the year, we’re getting awfully close to that time when they’re enthusiastically celebrated.   This season will lead us to our kitchens to create platters and packages full of the best recipes we save all year to share with our cherished crew.

Shortbread is a cookie that showcases the flavor of pure butter.  It’s characteristically quite subtle and not very sweet.  But I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s humble; it’s actually quite grand.  The beauty is found in its unfettered simplicity. 

If you love honey, this shortbread is for you.  The recipe is a very quick mix in a food processor and then off to a long slow toasting in the oven.  Unlike most other shortbread, this one takes on a lot of color.  The aroma is enticing and I would say it's a very nice beginning to the oncoming cookie extravaganza.  Although shortbread is fairly delicate and not suited to rough transport, it will always add beautifully to your cookie platter.

Bench notes:
- Cut the butter into 1/2” pieces and keep it chilled in the refrigerator until it's time to add it.
- After pressing the dough into the prepared pan, I use the bottom of a measuring cup to press gently into the surface and smooth out my finger impressions.  Dip the cup into flour for a very light dusting if it's sticking in any way.
- If you happen to under bake the shortbread, cut into pieces and toast in the oven for an additional few minutes.
- Scoring the shortbread when it comes out of the oven and cutting into pieces with a very sharp knife while it is still warm will give you nice clean slices instead of jagged shards.
- I keep the ingredients here very simple to let the honey shine.  But if you are so inclined, you could add an extra pinch of salt, a slight hint of spice or a few sliced almonds.
- If you prefer a sweeter cookie, increase the sugar to 1/4 cup.

Honey Shortbread
Makes 18 pieces

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) flour
3 tablespoons (39 grams) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz (12 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into 1/2” pieces
3 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz) honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

raw turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Lightly grease an 9 1/2” tart pan with removable bottom.

Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process to combine.  Add the butter and process just until it looks like coarse meal.  Add the honey and vanilla and process until the dough starts to form clumps.  Place the clumps of dough in the prepared tart pan and press them flat into an even layer using your hands, making sure to press the edges down so they won't burn.  Sprinkle with raw turbinado sugar.  Chill until the oven is ready to go.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  

Bake the shortbread until a golden brown, about 45 – 50 minutes.  Place on a wire rack and, using the sharp tip of a knife, score just the surface of the shortbread into portions.  Cool for 10 minutes, then gently remove from the pan.  Use a sharp chef’s knife to portion into pieces, wiping the blade clean after each cut.  Cool completely.


Bryan said...

I really wish I knew more about using honey in baking. This is a fun start.
I love honey. Flavors can vary wildly.
I'm surprised how little is needed. It's an awesome little shortbread.

pastry studio said...

Hi, Bryan. I feel the same way. Honey does seem a bit mysterious. It's hygroscopic, so it lends more moisture than sugar to baked goods. It also adds some acidity, so it can affect leaveners in a different way. I experiment with it from time to time because I love the flavor it brings but I can't say I completely understand how it works in every case. I think it's just luck that it sometimes works out! But it is a lot of fun trying.

I love the simplicity of this shortbread. It let's the flavor of the honey shine through.