Monday, May 15, 2006

Spice is Right - Ginger Shortbread Cookie bars

gingered shortbread cookie bars

Barbara of 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
the short-bread ready to go in the oven
  • 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.
Some Kitchen Notes:
  • 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.


Revathi said...

Haaa u got mee.. I wanted to do a ginger cookie. Looks good -

Anonymous said...

no water/ egg added???!!!

wheresmymind said...

I love ginger...except for grating tough on my delicate fingers ;)

Luv2cook said...




Nope. No water or egg. The melted butter binds everything together.


I usually just put it in a tiny mortal and pestle if I want it ground, otherwise just finely chop it. I used to grate it but discovered it was a pain :).

Anonymous said...

Havent you had ginger candy in India? Lime candy,Ginger candy you see in small tea-shops?

I think gignger grows in red dirt but also it is used to preserve it.

Oh! the smell of fresh ginger back home. The plump ones we get here are pathetic versions,right?

Sarah said...

>> Luv2cook: "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."


Description: Ginger grows UNDERGROUND in tuberous joints. Its stem is green which grows up to 3 feet tall. Its flowers are usually yellow or purple.

Latin Name: Zingiber officinale

Parts Used: Root

Habitat: Zingiber officinale is mainly from Southeast Asia. It usually grows well in well-watered soil with shades and in tropical climates.


Luv2cook said...


Nope. Never had ginger candy..hmmm. Lime, I did, I think. But never ginger.

Thanks for the red dirt confirmation :).


Thanks for the link. I did know that ginger is grown underground. I remember reading about it in a Science class in middle school. What I was referring to was that, I did not know if ginger actually grew in that "red dirt" I specified. Sorry for the confusion :).

KrishnaArjuna said...

Cookies looks delicious, good and easy recipe.
I personally don't think that the dirt preserved ginger(especially at the stores). Now I know this for fact because my mother never bought the ginger preserved in red dirt and it kept well. The only place I have ever seen this kind was in Hyd. At first when I saw this ginger in stalls I questioned its appearance and my mother told me that it was just a sales tactic; trying to make ginger look as authentic as possible. Sand can be certainly used to preserve ginger if a fridge is not available(My grand mother's tip) but I am not sure if erra matti does the same trick or not.

Vineela said...

Hey l2c,
Hey what a coincidence.
I made ginger snap cookies last week for ruth's event and my post is waiting to upload..Mine is a kind of dessert with ginger snap cookies.Really as you said we can enjoy the fresh flavor of ginger once it come out of oven. Yummy ginger bread .
Ginger is Good to keep in soil.My grandmom also used to store like that in small pot..

RP said...

The cookies look great. Can I have one?

santhi said...

what yummy lookin ginger bread....

Nandita said...

I absolutely love this! And I carry a very Dominant ginger gene in me too...
In India ginger is coated with mud, because ginger is a root- and while its growing , it's completely covered by soil like turmeric root. And they don't wash it here before selling as the water causes it to rot-

I so want to try this, just I don;t have cornflour on hand at present, is it ok to try it without the corn flour??

Menu Today said...

Hi CM,

Delicious Ginger Shortbread cookie bars. Good job.

Luv2cook said...


Thanks for the explanation. I am always used to my family buying ginger that has red dirt on it. Infact, my grandmother preserved ginger that way too after she bought it from the store. She put it in red dirt.


Gingersnap cookies, I guess are different than ginger short bread cookies. So I'd be interested in looking at your post.


Sure. Come on over. It is a party!




I found a link which explains why cornflour/cornstarch is used in shortbreads. Hopefully it will help you out.

Towards the very end of the article, it talks about why cornstarch is used. It also talks about using rice flour and what difference adding riceflour will make to the recipe. Do check it out. Please check it out!



Vaishali said...

I love shortbread in any form. And I am a ginger-fan as well. Will I get to try them out? Hmmm...let's see. I guess, it will have to wait until the year 2048. I have a full agenda until then. Too many recipes to try out. I'm gonna have no time from blogging and cooking and again blogging. :) :) :)

Lakshmi said...

nice ginger bread cookies, looks so good.

Kitchenmate said...

Oh.. i love these cookies.. i tasted at my friends place along with a tea...yummy combo..

Luv2cook said...


Do try it out. As I said, I promise you, it won't take you more than 10 minutes to put this together. :). One of the easiest desserts to ever put together.




Thanks! Yeah, anything gingery goes really well with a nice cup of tea :), I think. :)

lucette said...

Hi from the Spice is Right. I'll definitely try these, because I am a big ginger fan.
My ginger trip was just the opposite of yours--I knew ginger only as a sweet ingredient--ginger cookies, ginger bread, and my mother used to put a bit in her pumpkin pie. I didn't taste savory ginger until I became a fan of Asian cooking.

Nabeela said...

That looks like something I can get addicted to...I'm planning to try your recipe this summer during my vacation...yup, I get two months+ vacation!!!!

Nandita said...

Hey I did try the shortbread cookies...without the ginger, just vanilla essence, it tasted wonderful! I'm going to put this in my favourites folder-since i dint have cornflour on hand that day, i used a very fine gram flour.