Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Merry! Merry! Matcha Shortbread and Cookbook News!

It's just a handful of days before Christmas, but my biggest and best present came a little early.  All the Sweet Things cookbook went to print today.  Hooray!  Guys, I'm so, so happy.  And proud.  And feeling all the feels.  This has been quite the journey, from the time I was approached by TouchWood almost 2 years ago, to finishing my proposal in June of 2015, to the offer of a contract in July, then the completion of the manuscript this past April.  With the expected publication date of late April 2017, that's almost two years of gestation for my book baby!

I know everyone says their babies are gorgeous, and from looks of the cover and interior, mine is no different.  It's frigging stunning, let me tell you.  So many talented people have worked on this book, from the team at TouchWood to Tree, the book's designer.  Then there are the behind-the-scenes- folks like Lesley, my editor, who made sure I made sense, and Claire, who proofread the final drafts, catching any mistakes we might have overlooked.  It was an enormous undertaking, and now it's essentially out of my hands, getting printed somewhere in China.  I can't wait to crack open that box when it lands on my doorstep.  I can't wait for all of you to crack open the spine, and to get the pages dirty with butter and sugar.  It'll be yours, then.  The best part of making any art, be it a cookbook, or a record, or a painting, is to have others experience it on their own.  To infer from it what they will.  I can't wait for all of those moments to happen!

In other news.....Seeing as it is Christmas, I've been baking up a little storm over here in Saskatoon.  Yes, some recipes from the book, which I can't wait to share with you, and others that aren't from the book.  This matcha shortbread recipe is a bit of a riff off of one from Smitten Kitchen.  I made more, because I have loads of cookie boxes to give away this year, and I felt too lazy to make a white chocolate ganache to stuff them with.  Instead, I drizzled them with white chocolate, then sprinkled on some crushed candy canes and some giant creamy white sprinkles. Then, I dusted them all with a bit of icing sugar.  You could go all out and make a batch of Royal Icing, and decorate the shortbread that way.  Like I said, I was feeling lazy, so I just drizzled the white chocolate (with a fork, no less!) and I rather like the random look of it all. 

The cookies are rather fragile, so you want to be careful when handling them.  The flavour of matcha is rather delicate, and not too overpowering, though this could all depend on the freshness of your matcha powder, so taste accordingly.  I love how the white chocolate balances out the earthiness of the matcha, with its own creamy sweetness. A little peppermint goes a long way, and plays nicely all around.  So pretty, they'll be sure to brighten up any cookie plate this weekend. 

And with that, I'm going to wish you all a very happy Christmas.  May your holiday season be filled peace and joy, fantastic food, and hugs from many loved ones.  And if you see a bright, shining star on Christmas Eve, go ahead and make a wish.  This year, all of mine came true. 

Matcha Shortbread 

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup icing sugar or powdered sugar
2 Tbsp matcha powder
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 tsp almond extract
melted white chocolate, crushed candy canes, powdered icing sugar for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Place the rack in the centre of the oven.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  
 In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients.  In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is very smooth.  Beat in the almond extract, then beat in the dry ingredients.  Beat on low speed until it becomes a smooth dough.  Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 discs.  Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out so it is about 1/8-inch thick.  Cut into your desired shapes.  Place them on the baking sheets and bake until they are starting to turn golden brown around the edges. Depending on how big your cookies are, this could take anywhere from 8-14 minutes.  Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let them cool on wire racks for about 8 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the wire racks to cool completely.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.  
Once the cookies have cooled completely, you can drizzle them with melted white chocolate, crushed candy canes, or powdered sugar, if you like.  I needed about 3/4 cup melted chocolate, 1/4 cup of crushed candy cane and just a smidge of icing sugar for 3 dozen.  Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen. 

*If melting white chocolate, add about 1/2 tsp of coconut oil to the white chocolate when doing so.  It prevents the chocolate from seizing up. 

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