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Ginger Shortbread with Balsamic Pears

December 15, 2012

Ginger ShortBread CUII DECEMBER 13th — “Ginger spice:” two words to describe my favorite type of cookie. Easy. So for a smaller soiree before my birthday party, I prepared some snacks, including homemade tzatziki, but I also wanted to provide something sweet.

So what did you do?
First, I prepared the topping. I sliced 2 whole Bartlett pears into thin slices lengthwise.
I added these to a pan with a dab of butter, a spoonful of dark brown sugar, a drizzle of honey, and a couple of drizzles of balsamic vinegar. I simmered the pears on low heat for about 10 minutes, then set aside to let them cool down.

For the shortbread dough, I combined:
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 cup dark brown sugar
-7 oz. butter (=14 tbsp)
-1.5 tbsp ground ginger
-1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
-1 tsp ground cloves
-a few dashes of salt

Mix with a pastry blender if you have one at first, and then it’ll be pretty clear that one’s hands is the best tool to mix all the butter into the dough.

I spread the whole thing onto parchment paper, and smoothed it out with my hands to make a thin rectangle. Since the edges cook faster, make sure the center area is a bit thinner. Then, I layered the pear slices on top!

Ginger ShortBreadThe shortbread bakes at 325 degrees for about 50-60 minutes.

Allow it to cool for 10 minutes or so after taking it out of the oven. When it cools and hardens a bit, then it’ll be much easier to slice into smaller cookies.

Super proud of these cookies.

Lessons learned?
These award-winning bakers use a lot of butter for a reason. The butter not only adds a rich taste, but also it is responsible for both the duality of textures: chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside / bottom.

Also, don’t be afraid of salt in sweet baked goods, not necessarily and not only because it “brings out” the sweetness, but also because the salt mollifies the cloying flavor of unrestrained sugar and gives the whole good a heartier flavor.

Ginger Shortbread platterParchment paper is great too. No added grease!

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