I was very excited when I saw this recipe. I love shortbread and I love Gale Gand. Based on my extensive interaction with her - I spent a lot of time watching her Food Network show Sweet Dreams when I was in college and graduate school - I have determined that she is fun, super nice, down-to-earth, and an excellent baker and pastry chef. I also absolutely love her babka recipe.
We spent the weekend in Florida visiting my grandma, and we're leaving early Saturday morning to spend 9 days visiting Paul's family in Oregon, so I knew I wouldn't have much time to make this recipe. I made and froze the dough when I had some time a couple of weeks ago, and I was planning on finishing the recipe one night this week. Luckily, I thought to check the website yesterday, and realized that the recipe was supposed to be posted this Tuesday! (For some reason I thought it was supposed to be next Tuesday.) So, I had to revise my plan. We flew in from Florida early Monday morning and went straight to work. When I got home Monday night, I put the dough in the freezer to defrost. I woke up early this (Tuesday) morning to finish the shortbread and take my photos before work. (Don't normal people do stuff like this? Sometimes I think this blog is taking over my life, and I post at most twice a week! I don't know how people do it.) Unfortunately, I'm also supposed to be logging all of my food this week to show my doctor. For some reason I don't think she's going to love the idea of eating shortbread for breakfast....
Anyway, luckily this is an easy recipe. Roasted rhubarb is one of my favorite spring desserts and I really wanted to make the rhubarb jam, but unfortunately I couldn't find rhubarb at the store and our rhubarb plant is still at least a month away from being ready. I decided to use some of the fig preserves I canned last summer instead, making the recipe even faster. The dough was easy to make, and I like that the recipe can be made in stages. This morning, while drinking my coffee, it was pretty easy to grate the dough, spread the jam, and get the cookies in the oven.
I pulled the shortbread out of the oven after 40 minutes, when it was just starting to brown. I have a hard time telling when things look "golden brown" and am now thinking this could have used a few extra minutes, but I had to get to work. I halved the recipe and used an 8 by 8 pan, so that may have affected the cooking time slightly.
For me, the hardest part of this recipe was dusting the cookies in powdered sugar. I've always been absolutely terrible at it. I - brilliantly - tried to rest the sifter on the cookies as I poured in the sugar. It - of course - sunk right into the dough, leaving a clear circle in the middle of my cookies. I thought powdered sugar might cover it up, but no such luck. My sugar is also very uneven - very thick in some spots and almost none in the corners. I think I got more of it on myself than on the cookies!
The good news is that these cookies still tasted absolutely great. My husband remarked on how great the texture is. Shortbread can be pretty dense, but I think the grating (and very gentle patting) of the dough keeps these cookies almost airy. I wouldn't refer to anything with this much butter as light, but these are very easy to eat, and eat, and eat...The jam I used is a pretty subtle flavor, but definitely a great addition. I can't wait to get home tonight and eat these for dessert!