We paid $9.99 for a large, handsome Buddha's hand. While expensive for a single piece of fruit, this isn't something you eat out of hand. One fruit can be made into multiple dishes, so it spreads out and makes the cost more reasonable.
Buddha's hand gets more fragrant when cut. I expected this. The scent is potent, delicious, lemony-floral, and uplifting. The sunshine-yellow rind is bumpy and leathery. Inside, the flesh is white and slightly crunchy. If you could turn sunlight into a fruit, this would be it.
The one we got is actually not bitter. I had heard this, but did not believe it, because citrus rind normally tastes intensely bitter to me. This is light, slightly citrusy-floral, and barely bitter at all. I see why some recipes suggest putting it in salads. It would be splendid over chicken and salad leaves, if you like that sort of thing, or chipped into a citrus or tropical fruit salad.
One large finger did not quite fill the 1/4 cup I needed. Adding one medium finger overfilled it slightly. I chose not to remove the white pith because it was quite good. If it wasn't good, I would have reduced it. Taste before you put this stuff in a recipe! At two fingers per batch, I could make a LOT of cookies with one fruit. As it is, I'm planning to zest it onto chicken breasts tonight and also candy some.
After rolling out the dough and cutting it, I found that the easiest way to "separate" the pieces was to cover a second baking sheet in parchment paper and move alternate pieces onto that, creating two checkerboard patterns. Shortbread doesn't spread much in baking so the corners touching shouldn't be a problem. I did pinch the sharp ends of the outer pieces to make them hold together better and less likely to burn. I did not put the crystal sugar on top, because shortbread cookies are not supposed to be very sweet.
The original recipe uses only Buddha's hand to flavor the shortbread. In the future, I may experiment with adding a little bit of lemon juice or lemon extract to punch up the dough a bit. I'm also on the lookout for an enlightening spice to add in small quantity. I have already considered saffron or rose. Lotus is a new one to me but seems very promising; I'll have to keep an eye out for it. Ginseng is another possibility, although I don't have it as a separate spice. Another option, of course, would be to candy the Buddha's hand before putting it into cookies, much the way ginger shortbread cookies typically use crystallized ginger, which we love.