I hope all of you who had a long weekend last week, had a blast. I surely did :) We had a mini roommate reunion in California. I met up with two of my first and longest roomies from grad school, in California! The three of us lived together for close to three years and there is a nice comfort zone that we've fallen into. I've also shared an apt with two other gorgeous gals during grad school, and one of them is getting engaged next week! Hugs to all of them, love you :) We don't have to be in constant touch (though we do) and don't have to explain our words or actions or anything about us at all. We just know each other, plain and simple. We let our guards down and no topic is off bounds. I am known to lose my temper a bit (yeah, a bit. and I'm going to stick to that), but these gals know how to handle me, really well! I would never be able to do that, and thank God for them :D Its a blessing to have such wonderful girl friends. So when I knew the three of us were going to meet, I wanted to take a gift along. Ofcourse I had to make it myself right ? so I made these yummy shortbread cookies, in three different flavors ;-)
fruitcake cookies I made earlier but a lot more simpler this time. The original recipe by itself is fairly easy to do, but I watched a recipe online for a citrusy and nut filled cookie and wanted to try that this time. I like this recipe cos it does not have any of the egg-substitution craziness and it turns out great every time. I made 3 different batches, one with walnuts and a hint of orange, dried cherries and walnuts in another and the third one was a savory & salty version. All of them turned out great and if I really had to to choose one, I would go back to the fruit n nut combo, though the salty one came really close to the top.
Ingredients:These are one of the easiest and quickest cookies you will make. They aren't any complicated steps and the logs freeze really well. I have half a log of each still sitting in my freezer, waiting to get eaten by friends visiting next week. I intended to dip the cookies in chocolate and melted some callebaut bittersweet chocolate and flavored it with some caramel flavored Kahlua. But I was a little impatient I guess and ended up heating it more than I should have. I was using very little chocolate and was microwaving it for 15sec intervals. It looked perfect when it came out from the microwave 30secs later, but the residual heat in the glass bowl made the chocolate seize up on me. I couldn't let such gorgeous chocolate go unused and so I quickly rolled them out and
Fruit & nut
- 1 stick of butter (unsalted) - at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cup - All purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp - milk
- 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp - light Brown sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 tsp - Vanilla essence
- 1 Tbsp - Orange zest
- 1/2 cup - Walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped or combination of nuts and dry fruits
- 1/4 tsp - Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 Tbsp - light brown sugar, packed
- 11/4 tsp - Kosher salt (adjust to taste)
- 11/2 tsp - Cumin seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
- 2 tsp - fresh Thyme leaves, finely chopped (optional, use 1Tbsp)
- 2 Tbsp - finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. I used a hand blender for 3-4 mins on low speed. Add the vanilla essence, orange zest and salt and blend for another minute until the butter is fluffy and the sugar is well combined. (for the savory version, add all the ingredients, but for the parm cheese now)
- Next add the flour in 1/3rd cup portions and blend lightly. Be careful not to overmix the dough, it'll lead to tough cookies. Blend just until the flour gets combined with the butter. Once all the flour is incorporated the dough will resemble crumbs, the size of peas. You should be able to form a ball with it when pressed together lightly.
- Add the chopped fruit, nuts, milk and combine together. (Fold in the parm cheese at this point for the savory version.) Tip the dough onto a flat surface and knead lightly to form a round ball. Take some plastic wrap, place the dough on it and shape as a log using the wrap for help. The cross-section of the log will give you the final shape/size of your cookie since the cookies don't spread while cooking.
- Refrigerate the dough for atleast 30 mins-1hr before baking. When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350deg. With a sharp knife cut the log into 1/2 inch rounds. (If they fall apart you can easily force them together.) Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the cookies 1/2 inch apart.
- Bake for 15-20mins, checking on them every minute after the 15 minute point. When the edges start to turn a light golden take them out. They will continue to cook for a few more minutes outside the oven. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack so that the residual heat in the pan does not burn them.
All the three flavors turned out fabulous. I was initially worried about the sugar I added in the salty version. The butter tasted a lil salty-sweet and I wasn't sure I had made the right decision by adding it. But along with the flour it turned out really good. You could hardly taste the sugar in the final cookies but it enhanced the overall flavor. The Parmesan cheese speckled the cookies in gold when baked in the oven :) The thyme though, did not stand out in the cookies, you might have to use a lot more for its flavor to shine through. The cumin seeds gave the cookies a very nice warmth and taste, very similar to the Indian nankatai.
The sweet versions were great as expected, not overly sweet and crumbly, melt-in-your mouth style. My roomies enjoyed the fruit n nut one with the tartness of the cherries cutting through the richness of the cookies. We snacked on them during our drive to Lake Tahoe and SFO over the weekend. It was a picture perfect weekend, and here are a few of the photographs :D
The solutions to the foodie crossword are up, well N posted them more than a week back, it was me who hadn't updated this space. Solutions! I hope you enjoyed it.
These cookies are being packed up for Mansi of Fun & Food blog, for her Sugar High Friday June edition, Fruit & Nut.