Also, I tried out our new Cutco cheese knife for cutting butter. I buy this Irish butter in bricks and it's a pain in the ass to cut, always wants to stick on the knife and break. Not anymore! It's easier to cut through, and the butter comes right off the hollow blade in one piece. \o/ Just be careful, because that knife is seriously sharp. It cut through the paper under the butter, just touching it. Cutco is not cheap, but it is absolutely worth every penny. A spoon I don't spend swearing at the butter is a spoon I have to do something else with. :D
"Buddha's Hand Satori Shortbread Cookies"
1/4 to 1/3 cup Buddha's hand, diced (about 2 fingers)
2 sticks butter (1/2 pound), melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Cut one or two fingers off the Buddha's hand and dice them. I cut them into small strips and then slice across the strips. The bits should be about the size of miniature chocolate chips and serve the same purpose in the recipe: you want at least one in every bite of cookie. I dice one finger and if it's not 1/4 cup yet, I dice another one. The amount is fairly forgiving.
Cut two sticks of butter into chunks, put them in a microwave-safe container, and microwave until melted. It takes about 1 1/2 minutes in mine. It's important to use liquid butter to wet the flour, or the dough won't hold together -- and if it doesn't form a good ball in the bowl, it won't hold together on the cookie sheet either.
In a bowl, combine the Buddha's hand bits, the melted butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Stir with a spoon or cream with a mixer until the mixture is smooth and fluffy (except for the diced Buddha's hand).
Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing carefully to avoid spilling it. The dough will be very wet and sticky, but at the end it should stick together well.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If the paper won't stay put, put a little baking spray or butter on the tray to glue it down some.
Turn out the dough out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Use your hands or a rolling pin to press it into a square about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into small squares. I typically use a 4x4 grid to create 16 cookies, but if it spreads better then I may go 5x5. Carefully move the cookies a little bit apart so that air can circulate between them. The dough will not spread, so it doesn't need much space.
Put the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. When done, cookies should be firm to the touch and just beginning to turn golden at the corners. Do not overcook! If they're hard or brown, they will be overdone.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheet or a rack. Store in a sealed container. These freeze really well, like most shortbread.
Buddha's hand is a type of citrus fruit with an intense floral lemony aroma. It is bright yellow with weird "fingers" sticking out from the base. It is neither juicy nor bitter, but rather crisp, tangy, and slightly sweet. Look for a firm fruit that is about the size of your two hands; the little ones aren't worth the expense. It has a short season, usually just a few weeks in late fall or early winter, so grab it when you see it.
I use Irish butter. Any grass-fed butter will have more flavor than commercial butter. Use what you like or can get.
Cardamom is a warm, fragrant spice used widely in Middle Eastern, Indian, and some Asian cuisines. If you like lemon-poppyseed or lemon-pepper flavors, you could substitute either of those for the cardamom, although you'd only need a pinch or two of pepper.
Sea salt has a more complex flavor and much better trace minerals compared to table salt. You can also use any light mineral salt such as Himalayan pink.
This is a fantastic shortbread recipe in general. It produces the best-behaved shortbread dough I have handled, and it comes out delicately crisp and delicious. You can omit the Buddha's hand, lemon juice, and cardamom to replace them with any other flavorings you like to use in shortbread.