Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crumbly Ginger Shortbread

Ginger Shortbread (01) by MeetaK

December brings the pleasant and rather therapeutic baking period with it. My cookie sheets and baking forms are all scrubbed clean and the oven is raring to go. December is the time for Christmas baking – where sugar, spices, sweet and savory, nuts, chocolate and fruit all are the main ingredients for joyous Christmas spirit.

All this week I will be talking cookies! I have a couple of great recipes lined up and will be sharing a few stories, methods and tips and tricks with you. It should be a fun week just before we head towards Christmas.

Cookies go beyond the borders of language and bring happiness, lighting up faces of young and old. Something I realized thanks to my dearest friend Lydia.

Last year Lydia introduced me to her concept of giving – Drop In & Decorate is what she called it. A simple idea really: bake some cookies, invite friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to stop in and help decorate, then donate your cookies to a local food pantry, emergency shelter, senior center, lunch program, or other community agency serving neighbors in need.

I loved the idea and hosted my own cookies-for-donation event here in Weimar and even dedicated a mingle for this event.

This summer Lydia excitedly told me about how she had finally set up Drop In & Decorate Inc., a non-profit organization. I love reading each of her mails as she shares the latest news.

It was Soeren who asked me about hosting another one of those “cookie parties!” like last year. I decided to get his whole class involved. We began planning in November and Ms. Comiskey, Soeren’s Grade 1 teacher was extremely helpful and structured. I told her about Lydia’s concept, also mentioning that both hailed from New England, and we quickly set up a process of how things could work.

In class they first spent time discussing the various charity organizations, shelters and centers they could donate. The 16 kids voted for the Weimar Clinic – Children’s ward, where the terminally ill children have spent months, some even years in the hospital.

DIAD collage 01

Last week I was just as excited as the kids themselves and managed to take a few hours off work on Wednesday and Thursday to help with the preparations, baking and decorating. Ms. Comiskey got everyone to wear Santa hats - Santa’s Workshop is what we called it. As we kneaded, rolled and cut our cookies we sang carols and listened to stories. It was so exceptional hearing the ideas each child had and heart-warming how they all wanted these magical cookies to heal the children at the clinic.

DIAD collage 02a

The cookies were packed in food safe bags and yesterday Soeren’s class put their Santa hats back on and visited the clinic. They sang a few carols and donated the cookies.

Cookies – the language of gratitude, love, healing and happiness.

I hope my ginger shortbread will bring joy to you. This is my all time favorite shortbread recipe. It’s extremely simple to put together but the added zing of ginger brings an extremely delicious highlight to the cookie.

All About Shortbread

Ginger Shortbread (04) by MeetaK

One has to be careful that these delicate, crumbly cookies do not become a tea-time habit. They are rather rich, traditionally made with one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts oatmeal or plain white flour.

The advice on making the perfect shortbread is rather conflicting. While some say the shortbread should be slightly browned others will advice that shortbread is pale, nearly white in color. You might find some recipes for shortbread using margarine while others will swear that only butter makes a true shortbread.

I have been making shortbread for several years using recipes handed down to me by my mum who in turn obtained these recipes from Tante Stephanie. Tante Stephanie’s advice is etched in every shortbread recipe I have and I adhere to her rules meticulously. Simply because I am always rewarded with perfect shortbread.

For us shortbread is pale never “browned”. It is baked on low temperature to avoid coloring. Never margarine but butter makes each bite of shortbread truly pleasurable and gives it that unmistakable crumbly texture. The shortbread dough should not be overworked as the warmth in your hands will cause the dough to become greasy and oily. The best way is to use a wooden spoon when beating the fat, once softened you can easily work it into the rest of the ingredients.

Ginger Shortbread candied ginger (03) by MeetaK

Once the shortbread is ready transfer it straight to the prepared tin and gently pat it, spreading the dough evenly. We never roll out the dough and cut into shape - it makes the shortbread tough due to the extra handling.

With this good advise it's time to enjoy my favorite shortbread, flavored with candied ginger. An explosive Christmas treat I make every year and give as gifts to friends.

Catch the Monthly Mingle Low-Sugar Treats roundup on the Daily Tiffin. There are a few great ideas for you to nibble on, guilt-free!

Recipe: Ginger Shortbread

Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

250g butter, room temperature
250g all-purpose flour
60g powdered/confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon ginger powder
75g candied ginger, chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Prepare a square baking tin (23cm x 23cm) by lightly buttering it and lining it with baking paper.

In a bowl beat the butter using a wooden spoon until soft. Add the sugar and then whisk with a handheld electric beater until mixture is smooth and creamy.

Sieve the flour and ginger powder into the creamed butter and fold in until incorporated. Add the candied ginger and with the wooden spoon mix gently.

Transfer the dough into the prepared tin and either with the wooden spoon or your hands even and spread the dough to the sides of the tin.

Using a serrated knife gently cut the dough, making sure not to cut all the way through, into fingers or squares.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, turning the tin around about halfway through the baking time. Make sure that the shortbread does not brown. If you notice it browning then place a sheet of baking paper over the top and reduce the heat slightly.

Take out of the oven and then cut the shortbread along the marked cuts while the dough is still warm. Allow to cool in the form for approx. 5 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely. 

 


Verdict

Ginger Shortbread (02) by MeetaK

These ginger shortbread are our way of opening the Christmas baking season. They are one of the first things we bake as December comes around. We make enough to give as gifts in small bags and to nibble throughout the month. Just a few ingredients really - but an incredible refreshing flavor.

I know Susan will not only love this shortbread but also enjoy reading the story of Soeren's cookie-donation week. I am sending this to her Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 2. I was a part of it last year and there was no way I would miss this, this year.

You might like these Christmas treats from WFLH:

FruitCake 05  VanillaKipferl 03 Yule Log 02
My Family's Traditional Fruit Cake Vanilla Kipferl Bûche de Noël - Yule Log

From around the blogs:

Daily Tiffin Reading Tip:

 

Menu For Hope: 15-24 December 2008

MFHshort8
  • An annual fundraiser to help the UN World Food Program
  • Bid on prizes from December 15 - 24, 2008
  • One virtual raffle ticket is US$ 10
  • You can donate a prize
  • WFLH is also donating a prize
  • Details and information here

 


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

34 comments :

  1. Lovely and perfect.The season is perfect for sharing.Nice cause the kids have undertaken.
    The shortbread looks too good.Looking forward for all other cookies

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  2. Such a nice gesture. Kids are adorable!

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  3. What a wonderful party you had, and having the kids participate is a great idea. I could easily become addicted your shortbread.

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  4. Oh, look at all these little elves rolling and sprinkling. They must have had a blast!

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  5. i love shortbread, though ginger flavour is not really my thing :)

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  6. What a beautiful gesture, very heartwarming! Bless them all and the children at the Hospital! I know there must have been a huge effort from your side too.

    The picture shows how buttery and crumbly the shortbread is! Thanks for information on the texture - it helps esp. when I make stuff I have never had before and wonder whether it tastes right or not!

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  7. I'm grinning from ear to ear! Thank you so much for bringing the spirit of Drop In & Decorate to life! The kids are adorable, the cookies beautiful, and I can only imagine the smiles on the faces of the children who received them. Hats off to you and Soeren and his teacher and classmates for a wonderful event! And by the way -- ginger shortbread? This will become my husband's new favorite cookie, I'm sure!

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  8. The kids are adorable. A realy great idea . The shortbread looks so crumbly and delicious. I prefer to use butter for shortbread too.

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  9. What a wonderful start to the festive season!
    I love Ginger snaps but this crumbly shortbread is looking very tempting!

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  10. Hi Meeta

    An ideal way to begin the festive season. Just want to know if it will work with cake flour and should we add baking powder or baking soda ?

    Maya

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  11. Wow those shrotbreads looks so crumbly. Wish i had them with my coffee. I love the adition pf ginger in them. It must be giving a real kick while you eat them.

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  12. I bet the ginger gives this shortbread a great bite.

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  13. Very nice. I am feeling tempted to try it. And I really liked the Santa party,it was a heart warming gesture.

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  14. Beautiful pictures, interesting writing and lovely recipes. This shortbread recipe sounds and looks very interesting. Will surely mark it to give it a try.

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  15. I just love all the pictures. That workshop is so cute. Thanks for giving this recipe. Looks scrumptious.

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  16. Thank you everyone - yes we all did have a great time baking the cookies for donation. glad we were able to help put a smile on those kids faces.

    Lydia - LOL! I knew you would be grinning. This was a lot of fun!

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  17. How wonderful that Soeren and his class participated in this wonderful event. It's great to learn about giving and doing good to others at a young age. Your shortbread looks delicious!

    Paz

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  18. Meeta, I am really proud of all that you do. It inspires me to do someth out here in my place. Thanks a ton.

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  19. What a beautiful thing to do with the kids Meeta.

    The shortbreads look just Perfect.

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  20. The shortbreads look great! I like the composition of your pictures

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  21. what a wonderful idea! and a very sweet gesture. I'm sure it made the children at the clinic happy and their parents too.
    The shortbread looks wonderful!
    Such few ingredients, but so flavourful through ginger. I hav actualy never tried candied ginger. Yours is tempting me to.

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  22. That looks delicious. I'd like to invite you to take some time to drop by at Foodista. We have launched an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia. Add a recipe and you can win a $100 gift card to Sur la table. Thanks! See you there!

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  23. I'm not a huge fan of shortbread but I looooove ginger and I think the two would be wonderful together. I've bookmarked this recipe to give it a try!

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  24. Looks great. I've never heard of ginger shortbread.

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  25. Just the perfect shortbread Meeta..& light like I like it. Love the busy little hnads & the kids cause...WAY TO GO girl! Believe it or not, just candied some ginger yesterday...& am now hoping that the kids don't finish it before I get to make some cookies! Have a wonderful holiday season & new year...

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  26. Meeta that is the best Santa workshop ever! The real spirit of Christmas.
    The shortbread cookies . . . with ginger . . . just sound like perfection.

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  27. Nice looking short bread! I like the sound of adding ginger.

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  28. thank you all for your comments. for all those who are thinking of hosting something similar to drop in & decorate - it really is easy and with some organization i am sure you will have a lot of fun. lydia's website offers loads of help and tips to organize such events.

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  29. The shortbread sounds fantastic and I love all your collected tips!. The photos from Santa's Workshop make it look like a lot of fun. Merry Christmas!

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  30. I love ginger in every possible form! This is amazing, so festive!

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  31. Maggie Supriya - Thanks for your lovely comments. Hope you enjoy these!

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  32. Hi :) It looks sooo good! It's just I'd like to try the classic shortbread - without this ginger. So I want to ask you wether I should add something (for example salt) instead of this ginger stuff?
    Thank you, Kate

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  33. I'm not sure I got the butter/flour ratio right. It's 1 c of each?

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta