Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ming Tsai's Classic Shortbread and Five-Spice Shortbread


Shortbread cookies aren't exactly the sexiest of cookies.  Shortbread is a little plain, a little safe, and some might say a little boring.  But they are wonderfully easy to make once you have your dough prepared. I love cookies that come from chilled logs of dough because you don't have to mess around trying to measure out equal sized balls with a tablespoon or get dough stuck all over your hands.  You just wrap the dough in parchment paper, chill it and then slice.  Perfect.  And pretty freaking tasty.  A long time ago I made a recipe for Orange Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Chips and I was shocked by how tasty those cookies were.  I really need to make them again soon.  I will add them to my list...  Anyway, I decided I needed to try to make some shortbread cookies last week when I was trying to think of holiday baking projects.  And I ended up picking this recipe because I loved how Ming Tsai came up with one base recipe for four batches of dough and then a bunch of variations for each batch.  I wanted to make all four batches the other night, but decided that I would bake two batches and save two for future experiments at a later date.  With these two batches I decided to go with his basic Classic Shortbread and Five-Spice Shortbread recipes.  For the remaining two batches I'm thinking chocolate dipped (maybe with some crushed hazelnuts or some orange zest) and then Ming Tsai's Double Chocolate-Ginger Shortbread.

These cookies were simple and quite delicious.  The cookies weren't as buttery or as flaky as I had anticipated, given how crumbly the dough was.  They also weren't super sweet, but I have never had an intensely sweet shortbread before so I imagine that is pretty typical.  I wish that the flavor of the five-spice had come through a little more on the five-spice shortbread cookies.  The five-spice wasn't adhering very well to the dough.  Perhaps I should have let them warm up a  little more so the spice would adhere better?  I would say that these two batches were good, but not amazing.  We will have to see how the next two batches go.  We should be baking those two batches shortly, so stay tuned!

Recipes after the jump!





Butter Shortbread Cookie Dough
Simply Ming
By Ming Tsai
INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Interior scrapings of 1/2 split vanilla bean, preferably Tahitian
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour


In the bowl of a mixer, combine butter, sugar and salt and cream on medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes. One by one, add the egg yolks, mixing until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and the scrapings of the vanilla bean. Scrape down the bowl.


Turn the mixer off and add the flour. Turn the machine to low and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl. Working on parchment or wax paper, form dough into 4 logs 10 inches long and 1 1/4 inches in diameter; wrap and chill.


NOTE:  You can freeze the dough for up to two weeks.


Classic Shortbread
Simply Ming
By Ming Tsai
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup granulated, raw, or turbinado sugar
1 chilled log of butter shortbread cookie dough


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the sugar in a small bowl.


Cut the log into twenty 1/2-inch rounds. Dip one cut surface of each of the rounds into the sugar and arrange them 2 inches apart on all sides on a parchment-lined or nonstick cookie sheet or sheets.


Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack




Five-Spice Shortbread
Simply Ming
By Ming Tsai

INGREDIENTS:
2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
1/4 cup turbinado or other granulated sugar
1 chilled log of butter shortbread cookie dough


Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise, and sugar. Alternatively, you can cheat and just use 3 tbsp of five-spice seasoning, plus the turbinado sugar.


Cut the chilled log into twenty 1/2-inch rounds. Dip one cut surface of each round into the spice mixture and arrange the rounds 2 inches apart on all sides on a parchment-lined or nonstick cookie sheet or sheets.


Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cookies with a spatula and cool on a wire rack.


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