After inhabiting this planet for more than half a century, I have ceased to be embarrassed by the fact that I have the type of sweet tooth that if I let myself, would make it perfectly feasible for me to eat an entire box of Dolly Madison vanilla zingers.Honestly, I’m not exaggerating. One of my very favorite foods is birthday cake. And when I say cake, I mean cake only in the sense that it is the scaffolding for mounds of delicious, delicious frosting.
But I am also a bit of a paradox inside a contradiction stuffed in a jelly donut.
I can’t abide a grain of sugar in my iced tea, I order my lattes half sweet, and I like my soft drinks lots more fizzy than syrupy.
So, I guess those bi-polar taste buds are the reason why I really enjoy this new treat I discovered last week.
The Kid and I spent the day in Raleigh. We visited the NC Museum of Art to check out the Da Vinci and Escher shows, and headed over to our favorite capitol city bakery, Boulted (614 W South St, Raleigh). My child was Jonesing for some of their seeded levain; a crusty, sour loaf perfect for lashings of cultured European butter. I snagged a bagel-like bialy for breakfast, then spied something called rye shortbread.
We added it to our order.
As soon as we got back to the car, I took a bite of my shortbread. I was totally expecting a salty, rye/caraway-flavored buttery cracker. What I got was something entirely different. It was a lightly sweetened, pecan-studded cookie with the acidic kick of rye.
Once I got over the surprise, I took another bite. And found that I really enjoyed it. It would be the perfect thing to accompany a really thick, rich cup of hot chocolate.
I did a little research, and a little experimenting, and came up with this recipe.
1½ cups rye flour
½ cup finely chopped toasted pecans
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter (softened)
¼ cup Granulated Sugar
3 tablespoons honey
Whisk together flour, pecans, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
Cream the butter, sugar and honey until just incorporated.
Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix on low until it all comes together, but no longer (there’s gluten in rye flour, and you don’t want it to develop).
Roll the dough to ½-inch thick (if the dough is too soft to roll, shape into a disk or rectangle, wrap in plastic and chill until firm). After rolling, cut into bars, circles or desired shape. Cover and chill until hard; 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place cookies on prepared pan and sprinkle with sugar and more pecans, if desired. Dock the center of each cookie with a fork. Bake until edges are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
Cool and store, wrapped, at room temperature for up to 1 week.
This recipe makes approximately 20 cookies.
I’m not saying I would regularly pick this cookie over a heavily decorated cupcake, or a Krispy Kreme donut fresh from its honey glazed shower, but this shortbread gets my full confectionary seal of approval. This new treat definitely has a spot in my rotation.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I suddenly feel the urgent need to see if there is a flashing “Hot” sign anywhere in the vicinity.
Thanks for your time.