A few months ago, one of my coworkers handed me a page marked in the new Food Network Magazine. I admit that I was a bit skeptical at first since I always assumed a lot of those recipes were a bit more Sandra Lee than Alton Brown (if you know what I mean...). It turns out, I was wrong! After reading the recipe for Cardamon-Semolina Shortbread Cookies, I realized that it seemed like something I would enjoy trying.
That night, after dinner and my shows were over, I wandered into the kitchen with the recipe and started mixing. The dough came together easily enough. It's a quickie slice-and-bake style that you pop in the fridge and can even keep in the freezer indefinitely. Never satisfied with leaving well enough alone, I decided to double the recipe and try out a second version with dried lavender and a lemon glaze on top.
Both cookies came out beautifully. The lavender ones were particularly pretty to look at with the glaze and little specks of purplish-lavender shining through. They tasted even better than they looked: buttery and with floral and spicy undertones. The semolina really transformed the texture of the cookies into something a bit more substantial than the usual crumbly shortbread. The irony of the whole thing is that I don't really even like shortbread, but I really enjoyed these. My coworkers gobbled up the batch I brought them, and Eugene and my dad took care of the rest.
Like I mentioned, the dough is the kind that you can prepare ahead of time and then just slice and bake as necessary. I still have a log of the cardamom-semolina in the fridge, just waiting for someone to drop by for tea.
Cardamom-Semolina Shortbread Cookies
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon orange-flower water
Sift together both flours and 2 teaspoons cardamom in a large bowl; set aside.
Using a mixer, beat the butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar and the salt in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg yolks; mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the orange-flower water.
Divide the dough in half; place each half on a sheet of wax paper. Using the wax paper, roll each piece of dough into a 12-by-1 1/2-inch log. Wrap tightly and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom in a bowl. Slice one log of dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (keep the remaining log refrigerated). Dip the tops of dough rounds in the cardamom sugar and arrange on ungreased baking sheets; bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining log of dough.
Lavender-Lemon Semolina Shortbread Cookies
Replace cardamom with equal amount of crushed dried lavender. Add 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest. Proceed with recipe as stated above. Top with lemon glaze (recipe follows).
1.5 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth making sure there are no lumps. Use a spoon to drizzle about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cooled cookie.
Let harden for about two hours (uncovered at room temperature), then store in an air-tight container for up to one week.