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Bread That Is Short

Rosemary Shortbread I've been on a big shortbread kick lately.  I think it's mostly because they are the buttery little chameleons of the cookie world.  I can be digging around on the spice shelf of our pantry and get about two dozen ideas for accessorizing a basic shortbread recipe, and then the challenge simply becomes choosing which one I want to make first. Over the New Year's Holiday, I stumbled across a recipe for a Parmesan shortbread with rosemary.  Savory and herbaceous, it sounded like a lovely alternative for all of the sweet I usually generate in the kitchen.  I decided to swap out the Parmesan for three-month aged Manchego cheese, which is a sheep milk cheese from Spain.  I pressed a whole blanched almond into the top of each shortbread round, though in retrospect, I wish I had had some Marcona almonds on hand instead.  The finished product was light and buttery, and deliciously herbaceous, with a nice little touch of texture from the almond.  I took it a step further and spread some quince paste on them as I ate them and it was quite a delicious homage to a country I have yet to visit.  The shortbread were accompanied by a glass of Juan Gil Jumilla, some jumbo olives that I stuffed with the aforementioned Marcona almonds, and an assortment of Spanish goat and sheep milk cheeses for an evening of tapas with friends. Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese (or any Spanish cheese of your choosing)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • blanched almonds (or Marcona almonds)
  • quince paste (optional, for serving)
Put the flour, sugar, rosemary, salt and Manchego into a bowl and whisk until combined.  Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture until a soft dough forms.  You will likely need to add the water to get it to hold together. There are a couple of different ways to prepare your shortbread for baking.  The first method is to put the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, forming it into a loose log.  Roll the dough log in the plastic wrap and twist the ends securely, then chill it in the refrigerator until it is firm - about one hour.  After it has set, cut the log into 1/4" to 1/2" disks, placing them on a cookie sheet.  When I prepared the dough, I simply rolled tablespoon-sized balls of it, setting them on a cookie sheet.  I placed one blanched (or Marcona) almond on the top of each ball, then pressed them flat with the floured bottom of a glass.  When they were all prepared, I set the cookie sheets in the refrigerator to let them set for one hour. Bake the cookies in a 375 degree oven for about 12 to 14 minutes.  The edges will just begin to turn golden brown.  Cool the shortbread on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Spread with quince paste before eating. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for about a week. ~Sara