Monday, April 30, 2012

Baking with Julia: Hungarian Shortbread

Was this a good recipe? Well, it called for a pound of butter, so let's just say the odds were stacked in it's favor. ;) After all, something this pretty wouldn't be possible without butter:



I'm glad this was the recipe we had to do this week, because honestly, I almost forgot about it. This weekend wasn't particularly warm, but it was sunny so we hopped in the car and spent our time roaming around the city, exploring places and neighborhoods. One of the spots we found ourselves in was a store called Quincaillerie Dante which is... odd, to say the least. It's a small corner store in the Little Italy neighborhood of Montreal that is, apparently, a neighborhood institution, but that I had never heard of until recently. Upon walking in the door, you're greeted with a staggering array of cookware and gadgets and it seems like a normal little high-end kitchen shop... that is, until you walk a little further in. The back half of the shop isn't stocked with more espresso machines or Le Creuset pots, but rather with rows of rifles, hand guns and ammunition. Seriously. You can treat yourself to a set of All-Clad cookware and stock up on cartridges for your Beretta. *blinkblink* How... convenient? So we wandered around and I found something I've been hunting for for a long time... an uzi! Just kidding. Weck canning jars!!! I may have gasped out loud when I saw them. They're rather pricey here in Canada, if you can find them, so I only got a few of them, but needless to say it was the highlight of my weekend. Hee!


So pretty!
So once we had found our way back home, I realized I still had the shortbread to make. This was, thankfully, a simple recipe (found here and here) that I had everything on hand for, except for the rhubarb. Unfortunately, rhubarb has not put in an appearance at the markets around here yet, so I'd have to make do with preserves I had on hand. I decided to use up my last jar of Strawberry, Balsamic and Black Pepper jam, as I wanted to stay away from anything to overly sweet. Turned out to be a very good decision... it was just sweet enough to be dessert-y, while also being a little bit tangy/savoury. 

The recipe came together super easily... the only vaguely difficult bit was working the flour into the butter. I've had my KitchenAid mixer for a while now, and use it regularly, but I _still_ manage to make a mess with dry ingredients every now and then by turning the beater on too high. So once I dusted myself off and got the dough pulled together, I threw it in the freezer to chill. I was surprised by the step of grating the chilled dough, but seems like a creative idea to create texture. I had my helper monkey help with the grating, and into the oven it went for the prescribed 40 minutes. 

Despite the ever-so-slightly underdone middle (perhaps another few minutes might have been a good idea), this one was declared a great success. The texture was both crumbly and crispy, with a lightness that a normal shortbread lacks. B gladly took some lactaid in order to enjoy it, and a little square of it went wonderfully with a nice cup of tea, and I have some wrapped up in the freezer for my mother who is a big fan of shortbread. For both the ease of making as well as the tender and delightful (if not diet-friendly) result, I think this recipe will get some good use out of it... imagine the seasonal variations!!! :D 

18 comments:

  1. How exciting to find those canning jars! And the variations for this recipe are endless...

    ReplyDelete
  2. yup.. I agree the butter was what made these special... a tad excessive though!! :) stawberry and black pepper.. ahve never tried it...should give it a shot sometime!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. interesting... strawberry, balsamic, black pepper jam...
    I agree - definitely not diet friendly. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow! Your shortcake looks delicious - and the flavours of your filling amazing.
    ... I'm definitely going to make it again.

    I loved it, and though I'd reduced the butter by 1/3 it still was perfect!
    Thanks for baking along!
    Greetings from Switzerland.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Everything will look so pretty in your new jars! Your shortbread looks great too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. glad you liked it! :) I can get WECK jars in England but they are a bit pricey here as well! :)

    Alice @ http://acookingmizer.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. That jam sounds DIVINE. I love the description of the shop! I am also in favor of anything that required a pound of butter. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. That jam sounds really yummy! If you have a recipe, I would love it. I, too thought the grating was odd, but the texture was worth it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This isn't exactly how I made mine, but it's pretty darn close:

      http://www.canadianliving.com/food/strawberry_balsamic_black_pepper_jam.php

      Excellent stuff!

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the jam recipe, It sounds like a good one to go on goat cheese for an appetizer. You shortbread turned out as I imagined shredded shortbread should look, not everyones' did even with all the grating work.

      Delete
  9. I love stores like that - you just never know when you need to defend the Le Creuset from the masses who may try to get their paws on that favorite Dutch oven :-)
    Your short bread look great & I love the jam choice!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nice shortbread!
    I got excited when I read uzi! I've been hanging around my 12 year old son waaaay too much! But the canning jars sound pretty cool too!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Simply lovely shortbread! Strawberry, balsamic and black pepper jam…Ooooo! I have some of those Weck canning jars and I love them! Nice post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. a deal on weck jars? sounds almost as good as your shortbread!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Okay, you're guilty along with me, for not reading the chatter comments prior to making the Hungarian Shortbread. Are we the only two people that didn't heed the suggestion of several bakers who commented early on to pre-bake the bottom layer? Mine wasn't done, just like yours. But, next time I will know to do it. I still loved this bar and, you're right, what's not to like about that much butter. I am gong to try to cut some butter and sugar the next time I make it. I have never hears of Weck canning jars. Am going to Goggle it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Loved the post! Mine seemed jiggly in the middle, but then I over- baked it. Ha!
    Catherine www.praycookblog.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love the sound of that jam. It must have been heavenly with the shortbread. I'm afraid to find a source for Weck jars in Vancouver. I covet them, but my pocketbook does not.

    ReplyDelete