October 23, 2004

herby or spicy?

Friday, October 22

I can't tell you enough how much I love rosemary and ginger. You may think you have heard enough of it, though. But I should make it clear that I love rosemary and ginger even in sweets. (You knew that, too? Excuse me for sounding repetitious....)

My first encounter with rosemary in sweets was cookies. And rosemary shortbread has become one of my specialty teatime treats. That said, I have used different shortbread recipes - from a simple one using flour, butter and sugar only to ones with rice flour or corn starch -, and every time it turned out good. Basically, rosemary shortbread can be made with any kind of shortbread dough and an added spoonful or so of chopped fresh rosemary leaves.

For my latest batch of rosemary shortbread, I used the recipe for semolina shortbread by British celebrity chef Delia Smith. I had never used semolina in cakes myself, but the recipe looked pretty straightforward, so there were no worries, and the shortbread actually turned out beautiful and flavorful, buttery and gritty, and pretty tasty.

Now, while searching for other shortbread recipes using semolina, I came across a recipe for ginger shortbread.

If I had not been looking specifically for recipes for rosemary shortbread at that very moment, I would have given this a try, but I sure bookmarked the webpage and waited until the opportunity rose, which was a couple of days ago when it was rainy outside and I felt like something sweet and easy to make.

It may or may not appear to be clear at the first sight, but the two recipes are essentially the same in terms of ingredients; the ratio of flour, sugar, butter, and semolina is identical. What makes the two different is how to make and bake the dough. While Delia Smith's employs the method of creaming butter and sugar at room temperature and adding flours, the latter tells you to work butter in a food processor and add the remaining ingredients all at once. For the baking part, one requires a long cooking time at a relatively low temperature whereas the other takes much shorter time to cook at a higher oven temperature.

Being a hard-core ginger advocate, I was not going to be satisfied with ginger shortbread with ground ginger alone; there had to be real fresh ginger in the genuine ginger shortbread, in my opinion. So I gave in to my inner voice and put a little grated fresh ginger and diced crystallized ginger (and omit ground ginger). The grated fresh ginger might make the cookie dough too moist, I wondered, but I went ahead anyways.

The moisture of fresh ginger, it turned out, didn't cause much problem, but the high-temperature, short-cooking time did; I had been tempted to lower the temperature a bit and bake a little longer than specified, but I followed the recipe and had my shortbread a bit burned at the edge and its center slightly undercooked. It also flattened and spread bigger, contrary to the rosemary shortbread which had held the shape and thickness beautifully. Also, the addition of juicy fresh ginger seemed to have compromised the dry, gritty texture made by semolina; it wasn't soggy or anything, but it just wasn't as crumbly and sandy as otherwise.
Ginger ones tasted really good, but if I try to make ginger shortbread again - and I'm sure I will - I think I will go for another recipe. For good or for bad, there are an endless list of tempting shortbread recipes out there that I wouldn't mind trying....


Alicat said...

O O O!!! I want to try it! :D Those look simply amazing! :D

Scott said...

You know more about ginger (and food) than I will ever know. I've gained weight just from reading this blog. But you're a heck of a writer, so I guess I don't mind putting on some virtual pounds...

Reid said...

Hi Chika,

The shortbread cookies look yummy. In fact, after chocolate chip and peanut butter, shortbread is my next favorite. I normally make macadamia nut shortbread cookies with cinnamon. I'm going to try to make these savory cookies!

By the way, I love ginger too... =)

chika said...

Hi there,

alicat - yeah, go for it, you'll love them (if you like rosemary and/or ginger, of course)

Scott - you know what, if you come over here I'll be happy to help you put on some REAL pounds!!

Reid - I like macnut shortbread, too, but never tried one with cinnamon... it has to be good!