Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Brown Sugar Rosemary Shortbread: Team Christmas
In case it hasn't been mentioned before, I am a big sucker for the Christmas.
Even amidst my loud protestations that it was absolutely, completely unacceptable that 103.5 KOST FM started playing holiday music before Thanksgiving this year, I would be lying if I said I wasn't the slightest bit excited to hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" while it was still 80 degrees in Los Angeles. Nor was I all that appalled when my local CVS started peddling red & green M&Ms on November 1st. (They really are the best kind.)
This, the false protestations and lack of appallation*, may or may not have something to do with my not-so-secret desire to fast-forward through the whole Thanksgiving business that's clearly just a dress rehearsal for the main event. Cookies and peppermint hot chocolate and more cookies > brown-colored foods and dry birds and pie that is made from something that came in a can.
And that's before we even bring "Love Actually" and dead trees and glitter into consideration.
Not that I am one to complain about anything that necessitates a four-day weekend nor a reason to spend time with my family and a case of wine. It's just that deep down, underneath the two helpings of pumpkin bread pudding I consumed in far too rapid succession on Thanksgiving, I am team Christmas and everything it represents and inspires.
The true meaning, that is.
And all the jazz that comes along with it.
You will not be surprised to learn that as I'm typing this, perhaps a glass (or two) into a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that has been hibernating in my fridge for the better part of three months, I have a batch of cookies in the oven and the Michael Bublé Christmas CD playing on my Spotify.
I will probably eat them before they've even cooled and maybe burn my mouth a little and not even care because… Christmas.
The best excuse to love each other a little bit more than usual, and to eat far more cookies than are acceptable any other time of year… starting with these buttery brown sugar rosemary shortbread wedges.
*A new word according to me.
Brown Sugar Rosemary Shortbread
Adapted from Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cook Book
Makes 8 wedges
Notes: This recipe, courtesy of the Alice Waters, originally ran in the NY Times in 1986, which horrified me until I realized I was born in 1983 and obviously this recipe is still a spring chicken. I made a few adaptations - cutting the recipe in half to fit my single person needs, doubling the salt, adding in fresh rosemary for kicks, and finishing the whole thing off with turbinado sugar prior to popping in the oven. I also opted to bake this in a pie tin as opposed to free-flowing on a baking sheet, so do with that what you will. Perhaps take it as an analogy that this shortbread is easy as pie to make on a Wednesday night when you have nothing better to do but bake and listen to Michael Bublé's "White Christmas" on repeat.
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted, unblanched almonds, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie dish.
Using an electric hand mixer (my method this evening) or a stand mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. (Approximately 4 minutes or so.)
In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt and whisk together with a fork to "lighten" the texture. Gingerly stir into the butter/brown sugar mixture with a spoon rather than electric means. Once incorporated, knead in the almonds and rosemary, and form into a flat, round disk (complementary with the shape of the pie dish). Let chill out in the fridge for a bit if it feels a bit sticky. Think 15-30 minutes - nothing like an hour or so, unless you are feeling really patient.
Gently press the shortbread dough into the 8'' round pie tin. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Using a knife or a pizza cutter like me, deeply score the disk into 8 wedges.
Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Or not. You might be inclined to eat it straight from the pan.