This Sunday I had the pleasure of spending the better part of the day hanging out with the very talented Joann from Slice of Pai (don’t forget to check her out on Instagram). For a month or so Joann and I have been talking about doing a collaboration. On Sunday the planets or perhaps more accurately, our agendas finally aligned and we carved out a bit of free time in-between babyshowers and other such obligation to share some time baking and taking photographs. I have been really excited about this collaboration because Joann has an such an amazing eye for food styling and photography. The majority of the photographs you see here today are Joann’s handy work!
Our morning started nice and early (for a Sunday) with me arriving on Joann’s doorstep with a giant box of props and a bottle of whiskey. The whiskey was one of the props of course! Our plan was to bake shortbread two ways, savoury and sweet. I have always loved baking that mixes sweet and salty so when we came across a recipe for a delicate sweet and salty pre-dinner cocktail shortbread (enter the Whiskey) I was all in. For our sweet selection we chose an amazing buttery and crisp almond shortbread sandwich. The almond shortbread maybe one of the best shortbreads I have had in years; so good that I have since made a second batch. See below for recipes.
Sweet and Salty Herbed Shortbread
Recipe Adapted from Food52
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sal
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar for topping
1 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and lavender
1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack positioned in the centre. In a medium bowl sift together flour and salt. In a small bowl, combined 2 tablespoons of sugar and the chopped herbs. Using your fingers gently rub the sugar and the chopped herbs together, this will release the oils from the herbs. Stir the herb mixture into the flour.
Add butter chunks to the flour, mix using a fork until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough into a 9-inch round or square baking pan; gently pat the dough down. Using a fork prick the dough and sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar evenly over the dough.
Place the pan in the oven and bake the shortbread for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and no longer looks at all wet. While the dough is still warm, score it into fingers using a very sharp knife. Allow it to cool completely in the pan before separating the pieces.
Almond Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
Recipe adapted from FineCooking
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sal
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond meal
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a mixer combine butter, sugar and salt at low speed. Mix the ingredients on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes until the butter blends with the sugar but isn’t perfectly smooth. Continue mixing at low speed while adding the flour and almonds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing until the dough begins to hold together. Be careful not to overmix.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, quickly rolling the dough to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Thinner cookies will make a more attractive sandwich.
Make an even number of cookies and cut a smaller shape into the middle of half of your cookies. This will become the top of the sandwich. The tops of the cookies can be fragile so make sure the border is fairly wide. Transfer the cookies onto baking sheets and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
While the cookies are cooling position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 300°F. Bake the cookies until golden, about 30 min. Halfway through the baking time switch the pan from top to bottom and rotate them 180 degrees, cook for the remaining time.
Allow the cookies to fully cool. Place a small teaspoon of jam in the centre of the cookie bottoms and spread the jam lightly over the cookie avoiding the edges. Using a sifter dust the cookie tops with confectioners’ sugar. Place the sandwiches tops on the jammed cookie bottoms and very gently press together.