Crystalized Ginger Shortbread Cookies

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Ginger Shortbread Cookies

This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe with some very minor modifications. There were only 6 reviews and two were negative on the Food Network site but 6 reviews isn’t enough to pay attention to. We love ginger and I had ordered some diced crystalized ginger from Nuts.com and I love their stuff, the flavors are always great and everything is fresh. It’s really important to get good ginger so that you get that fresh, spicy aroma and taste. (No, I’m not selling or profiting from mentioning their stuff, I just use it and like it, so I might as well let you know!)

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Lighter bake means a chewier inside… yum!

We loved these cookies. These shortbread are crumblier when the edges are darker, and chewier when baked lighter. Plus a little chew from the ginger. They had excellent flavor, even right out of the oven (Chris can never wait, he says he’s doing it for scientific purposes). They were very good after they had time to cool (the ginger bite is more subtle but comes up at the end) but they are even better the next day when the ginger permeates the cookie with more flavor and chewiness, so make these cookies 1 day ahead and you’ll be glad you did.

Makes about 36 cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup diced crystalized ginger (dry, not the stuff in syrup)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • Im medium bowl whisk flour and salt
  • In bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment beat the butter and 1 cup of sugar but don’t whip it, you just want them combined. Whipping the butter will ruin the cookie texture and the cookies will spread.
  • Add vanilla and 2 tsp water and mix just until combined
  • With mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture until the dough starts to come together
  • Add the ginger until just incorporated
  • Dump it onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disk
  • Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes (if you chill it longer you will need to let it sit out a bit so that you can roll it out but keep it cool and it will keep it’s shape)
  • Roll the dough to 3/8 thick (mine were closer to 1/4″ but probably somewhere in the middle) and cut out the cookies with a round cookie cutter (mine was a 2 1/2 inch round)
  • Place cookies on parchment on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar
  • If you are baking two trays of cookies at once then bake the for about 20 minutes, until the edges just start to get golden – a single tray will brown faster so shorten the time. We like them on the lighter side so that they are chewier.
  • Cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container. Best served the next day for great flavor.

 

 

Jam Tarts

Dan & Kathy recently returned from a trip to London and Paris so I thought I would make some British jam tarts for Kathy’s belated birthday celebration. They were very cute and colorful but a good warning to give is that when you use jam filling, it will bubble up everywhere, especially when you use a jam with less pieces of fruit inside. The chunkier preserves stayed more stable. They were all delicious.

I can’t believe it, I thought I took a picture, but I didn’t! They were so cute and I hand cut little shapes for the top pastry layer… I didn’t have small cutters. Dan said it looked like lucky charm shapes, hearts, moons, stars, and diamonds. My knife skills didn’t allow for more. 🙂   They looked very similar to this photo (taken from BBC’s Good Food, but I didn’t follow their recipe):

tarts

I tested it with jams that we had in the house: raspberry (Smuckers), black currant (Bonne Maman), and cherry (Trader Joe’s). The raspberry and the cherry tied for favorites. The raspberry jam bubbled up a lot, though not enough fruit. I would use a better preserve next time. Black currant was a bit too sweet for us and while it performed the best by not splattering everywhere, it didn’t stand out enough. The cherry was great because it had large cherry halves in it, tasted like little pies! Tartness is needed to balance the delicious but buttery shortbread pastry. These would be great with lemon curd too.  Chris wants me to make it with apricot jam next time.

I made a number of modifications to this recipe if you would like to see the original.

JAM TARTS

YIELDS 18+

  • 8 ounces plain flour
  • 4 ounces butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons cold water
  • flour, for dusting
  • jam for filling: use any kind – I tested raspberry, black currant, and cherry. Favorites were raspberry and cherry.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the butter and blend it in using your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Use a fork to blend in the water, adding a little at a time until the mixture comes together and you can form a ball with your hands.
  3. Wrap the pastry in a piece of plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes – this will make it easier to roll out.
  4. Turn the oven on to 400°F.
  5. Sprinkle the work surface and your rolling pin with a little flour and roll the pastry out to about 1/8 inch thick.
  6. Dip the cutter in flour then cut out as many circles as you can – I didn’t reroll the scraps and made 18 circles. You can make more with the scraps, but make sure you leave a little of the pastry scraps for the decorative pastry lids. Once you have the desired amount of circles, roll out the pastry scraps and cut out the required amount of toppers.
  7. Lay the rounds of pastry in a well-buttered mini muffin tin or tart tin and press them gently into place. Prick the base of each tart once with a fork.
  8. Put the tart tray into the oven and bake for 6 minutes until the pastry is very pale golden.
  9. Carefully put 1 heaped teaspoon of jam into each tart, and then top them off with a pastry top. Bake for another 12 minutes until jam is bubbling and pastry has just begun to have darker golden edging.
  10. Leave them to cool (not too long or the jam glues them to the tin) then gently lift the tarts out and leave to cool on a rack or plate.