Spice is Right - Ginger Shortbread Cookie bars
Tigers and Strawberries has a revolving monthly event called Spice is Right! Read about this month's theme on Barbara's blog. I did not have the time to submit one for last month and I told myself that I was going to make something for this month. I said this to myself so many times that I totally forgot about it, well, until late Sunday night! So, it had to be a quick and easy recipe. The first spice that came to my mind was chile powder. I had seen Emerill use chile powder on one of his shows to create a dessert and that stuck in my head. I started googling for chile infused desserts and came across some chocolate cakes, chocolate cupcakes that were chile infused. Some how that seemed a little more work. I then starting flipping through my cookbooks. I was looking at my "Best-loved Cookies" book and I stumbled on shortbread cookies. I hadn't made them in a while and as soon as I saw the cookies, I started thinking about spice options. I first thought chile powder but thought faded away from the mind pretty soon as it did not really sound very appealing. So I went with ginger instead.
I do not even remember when my first association with ginger began. Probably when my mom used to recruit me to help her clean all the dirt off the ginger after she brought it home. Yes people, don't be surprised now, ginger used (still probably does) to come with dirt back in India. It was red, clay consistency mud ("erra matti" literally meaning red dirt) that the ginger had all over when it was first bought. I am not sure if the ginger actually grew in that type of dirt or if store owners just kept it in that dirt to "preserve" it. Any enlightenment on this topic will be appreciated. The "ginger cleaning" ritual became even more rigorous in the Summers. That is because that is when my grandmother and mother did their pickling (mango mainly) and we needed ginger in large quantities for that. There used be kilos and kilos of ginger that all of us kids (cousins, siblings) helped clean and scrape. I just loved the way ginger smelled, so I didn't mind that chore at all.
It seemed to me like my family put ginger in (what seemed like) almost everything savory. They put it in tea, curries, mainly non-vegetarian dishes (lamb, chicken, fish etc), fried vegetables, savory items (murukku etc). If you pay attention to my recipes, you will see that I carry the "ginger gene" in me too. I tend to put ginger in almost everything. The major culture shock to me with ginger was when I first took a bite of the ginger snap cookies almost 4 years ago. That was the first time I realized that ginger is used in sweet dishes too. Now, it doesn't really seem very wierd to me to put ginger in sweet stuff but if you had talked to me half a decade ago, I probably would have gagged at the idea ;).
Even though I got the short bread idea from the cookbook, I did not follow that recipe. I used a recipe from a friend from my previous work place. It is a very simple, "wake-me-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-I-will-rattle-it-off" kind of recipe. Here's the recipe!
- 1 cup flour
- 1 heaping teaspoon corn starch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tbsp ground fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
- One 9 inch cake pan
- One small mixing bowl
- Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Cover the cake pan with aluminium foil for easy clean up. This step is of course optional.
- Mix all the ingredients under the software list and press the dough into the cake pan until it is evenly pressed.
- Poke holes all over the top with a fork.
- Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Pull it out of the oven and using a knife, score the cookie and cut into desired shapes.
- Put it back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until the cookie is lightly browned.
- Let it cool in the pan and break of the already scored cookie pieces.
- The first four ingredients in the list are the original shortbread recipe. I just added the ginger to it. This cookie was unbelievably delicious. When I bit into a piece that had the actual ginger in it, it was heavenly.
- I add a teaspoon of vanilla to the regular shortbread cookies if I am making them without the ginger.