Item No. 07 of my 2016 Cooking Challenge
A little while ago, Deanna was inspired by the Great British Baking Show to try and make some biscuits. Apparently those biscuits didn’t turn out the way she intended. She was hoping for the American, big, fluffy biscuits-n-gravy sort of biscuits. Instead they came out more cookie like, but with a savory taste. Even if they weren’t what she intended, I thought they were a big success. Because the cookies were so plain, they paired up nicely with a jar of marmalade. I asked her for the recipe which she did not store in her memory.
I was inspired to make shortbread cookies because they’re great. Especially the Scottish style bars, with a bit of espresso ground. It pairs super well with a cup of coffee or cappuccino. If you buy them at a grocery store they can be a bit pricey which is odd, because they didn’t strike me as that tough to make. If you know how to do a pie crust, you’re a sugar ratio away from being there. So I decided to try and go for shortbread, and inspired by that marmalade pairing, make a pomegranate syrup.
Thing I Learned #1 – Pomegranate Syrup… Grenadine. Same thing by a different name! Grenadine is the syrup used in a variety of cocktails, perhaps most famously the tequila sunrise. And it kind of makes sense when you consider that the pomegranate resembles a grenade. I definitely made enough syrup to have some left over for when I have the other ingredients for a tequila sunrise on hand… orange juice, and of course, tequila.
For the syrup:
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/2 package of powdered pectin
2 1/2 cups of white sugar
For the cookies:
3/4 pound of butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
This recipe is basically a two parter. The syrup, especially if you intend to can it, takes a bit of time to get set even though it’s prep time is relatively quick. So lets start there.
The Pomegranate Syrup
1) Ingredients go In
Pour the pomegranate juice and the lemon juice in the saucepan. Bring it to a high heat and stir until it gets boiling.
Of course I would love it if I could juice the pomegranates myself. Truth is that would take a crap-ton of pomegranates and those would get expensive. So I took the liberty of buying some bottled pomegranate juice, which is already an expensive juice to begin with. Pomegranates are an awesome fruit that pair well with all kinds of things though.
Thing I Learned #2 – The best way to open up a pomegranate is to do so submerged in water. This allows the inedible membrane pieces to float to the top and the seeds to sink to the bottom. You can then filter out the junk and strain the water to get the good stuff.
2) Sugar Makes Syrup.
Once the water gets boiling, so boiling that stirring no longer brings the boil down, add in the sugar. Boil it for two minutes. Take it off the heat, let it rest.
3) Can it.
After it’s been able to rest for a minute, skim off the foam and begin canning. Take a canning jar and pour in the syrup. Seal it up tight with the lid, and submerge it into water in the stockpot. Make sure they’re under water by at least an inch. Let it boil for about five minutes to seal. Once sealed, this thing should keep in the fridge for like, two months.
The Shortbread Cookies
1) Make some dough.
The majority of this recipe is adapted from the Barefoot Contessa. First mix the butter and sugar in a stand mixer all by themselves until you have something that resembles a grainy dough. Add the vanilla. Sift the salt and flour together and add those in as well.
Use the paddle mixer and mix at a low speed until it comes together neatly. Wrap up the dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for about half an hour.
2) Roll out!
Take out the lump of dough and use a rolling pin to roll it out to be about a quarter inch thick. Once that happens use whatever sort of cookie cutter you have to start forming the cookies. I would love to be able to cut into those Scottish strips. I only had a stemless wine glass handy, so they ended up in circles. Lay these all out on a cookie sheet.
3) Bake time.
Don’t grease your baking sheet, just plop the cookies down. You may dust with extra sugar or flour if you so please. The bake time is 20-25 minutes at 350º. Give some time for these to cool down once they’re finished.
Serving this Sucker
So I had a good amount of fresh ricotta cheese left over after the avocado toast. Ricotta cheese notoriously doesn’t last long, so I tried to find as many ways as I could of using it up, and this was a really good one. A little smear of ricotta on top of one of these biscuits was perfect. Then a splash of syrup. That was my favorite way to go.
The full version of the Ina Garten recipe calls for dipping half of it in chocolate. I suppose that could be really good too, and if you were to do that, I would suggest going an extra mile and sprinkling a little smoked sea salt on the chocolate.
Thing I Learned #3 – Technically speaking, shortbread is made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. That’s the easy way to remember. Some say the shortbread was created on accident, from a bread recipe gone wrong. (Sounds familiar, Deanna) Others say that Scottish bakers used the term “shortbread” as a loophole on taxes placed on biscuits.
In the Future
I would love to do more shortbread. Next time I want to try and make them in their traditional rectangular shape, with the perforated holes and everything.
Also, I would love to experiment with throwing a bit of espresso grounds in the dough. I imagine that could be yummy.