100% Kamut Shortbread Cookies

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100% Kamut (Khorasan) Shortbread Cookies

What better way to experience the marvelously rich, buttery aroma of organic Kamut flour than in a classic shortbread cookie. Kamut flour is an ancient ancestor of our modern wheat, containing 20-40% more protein and a heck of a lot more flavour. After experimenting with both spelt and Kamut flour, I found that it is necessary to adjust the classic ratio of butter and flour when using high absorption flours to make shortbread. An additional quarter cup of flour per cup is sufficient to provide structure without yielding a dry cookie. The final result is a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread with an entirely new flavour and texture to savour.

Ingredients: 

2 1/2 cups sifted Kamut flour (10.5oz)
1 cup unsalted butter, preferably cultured (8oz)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar (100g)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Method: 

Remove the butter from the fridge and cut it into 1 inch cubes. Let the cubes warm at room temperature until they are pliable but still cool to the touch.

Butter a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Use a whisk to ‘fluff’ or slightly aerate the flour.

Place the butter in the bottom of a medium mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer, beat the butter for approximately 1 minute on medium speed until it is smooth and slightly fluffy. Scrape down the bowl halfway through. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl to ensure that all the sugar is incorporated.

Dump the flour into the bowl with the butter. Using a large wooden spoon or a stiff spatula, gently stir the ingredients until no streaks of flour or butter remain. The dough will be crumbly, and will gather in clumps rather than form a ball of dough.

Carefully turn out the clumps into the center of the prepared tart pan. Spread the dough so that it is evenly dispersed and press it down with your fingertips, gently but firmly. Use a piece of plastic wrap to prevent the dough from sticking to your finger tips.

Place the pan on a small baking tray, and refrigerate it for 20 minutes. Remove the tray from the fridge and use a small knife to cut the dough into 12 wedges. Return the tray to the fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Remove the tray from the fridge. Sprinkle a thin layer of granulated sugar over top the chilled dough.

Bake the pan on the tray in the preheated oven for 60-65 minutes, or until the top of the dough is golden brown with darker brown edges.

After the tray is removed from the oven, wait at least 15 minutes for the pan to cool slightly then carefully cut along the lines that separate the cookies with a sharp knife. Lift the pan off the tray and let the cookies cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

The cookies will be delicate, so handle and store with care. They will keep for one week in an airtight container.

Short ‘n Sweet: Buttery Poppyseed & Citrus Cookies

One of the perks of being a baker is that gift giving becomes a whole lot less agonizing when almost everyone you know would be happy with a fresh batch of homemade cookies.

Having spent the last month reading and testing in the hopes of discovering some of the best adventurous cookie recipes, I was disappointed when I realized that I still hadn’t found the perfect basic slice-and-bake shortbread. I quickly narrowed my search down to two recipes (via Smitten Kitchen and Southern Living), chose orange zest and poppyseeds as my flavourings, and sliced up some cookies to sample.

While the difference was barely perceivable, my tasters settled on the more traditional recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Because this shortbread was slightly less sweet, the individual flavours of the butter, orange zest, and poppyseeds came through the strongest.

With this recipe in my arsenal, I can easily put together a personalized cookie package that is as unique as the person I bake it for. And now that the shortbreads are sorted, maybe it’s time to start thinking about making a cake… ‘Tis the season after all. 

Coffee-Nut Shortbread Cookies

Satisfy your cookie cravings with a smooth, rich and nutty shortbread flavoured with coffee and roasted hazelnuts.

The problem with having your heart set on something is that it may take some time and a bit resourcefulness to get exactly what you want, but often what you end up with is the most delicious and effort-worthy version of your idea. This week I was firmly set on baking a nutty shortbread, but specifically one that was flavoured with a taste that I look forward to every day: coffee.

As it happened, I came across a recipe for hazelnut and brown sugar pan shortbread and suddenly remembered a stash of hazelnuts tucked away in my freezer waiting for such an occasion. There were only two obstacles between me and my cookies, how to procure finely ground nuts and instant espresso powder without food processing equipment or proximity to an Italian supermarket. Luckily both snags were easily solved with a plastic freezer bag, a wooden rolling pin, and an inexpensive spice grinder.

To achieve a rough nut meal, simply toss toasted and cooled nuts into a plastic freezer bag and take a heavy rolling pin to them. Avoid the instinct to give the nuts a good pounding, which will only tear the plastic, and apply heavy pressure as you roll the pin over a hard surface. The finished product will not be as fine or as even as machine processed nut flour, but for this recipe it will be just as yummy.

In the past I have used instant coffee (which on its own I abhor) to flavour desserts by dissolving the granules in a tablespoon or two of boiling water and then using the liquid as if it were a mild extract. However in the case of shortbread and many other cookie recipes I would hesitate to add the additional liquid, so another brilliant option is to combine fine espresso powder with the rest of the dry ingredients. To convert course instant coffee grains into a fine powder, I popped a half cup into a small electric spice/coffee grinder and gave it a few whizzes, just until the granules were reduced to a light and perfectly whisk-able dust. Do make sure to use your new ingredient in moderation, as finely grinding the coffee greatly increases the potency per tablespoon. For a large double batch of shortbread, I used only 1 tablespoon of the flavouring.

And the result was almost as satisfying as the first roast of the morning. The dark aroma of coffee heightens the richness of the shortbread and brings out the creaminess of the butter, while the presence of toasted hazelnuts and brown sugar rounds off the entire ‘latte’ experience. A drizzle of chocolate and a dollop of whipped cream wouldn’t hurt either.