Sunday, November 8, 2015
Heidesand is a type of German shortbread made with browned butter. My mother recently made two batches of these delicious cookies, experimenting with the flour. She used unbleached all purpose flour for her first batch. The resulting cookie was how I remembered it from my childhood; a rich buttery shortbread cookie. For her second batch she used only whole wheat pastry flour. This resulted in a very delicate, melt in your mouth type cookie which I loved, however it was quite crumbly, something my mum wasn't happy with. I decided to make this cookie using half all purpose and half whole wheat pastry flour. I love the way these turned out; tender cookies that don't break apart the moment you bite into them.
My mum's recipe is pretty simple; half a pound butter, half a pound flour, 3 ounces sugar and a bit of baking powder, salt and vanilla extract. She told me these cookies need to be baked in the upper third of the oven and removed as soon as they are firm without allowing their bottoms to brown. I let mine brown because I think they taste better that way. I'll leave the baking time up to you.
1/2 lb unsalted butter, (2 sticks)
1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup* whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
Melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until it begins to brown. You want the butter to be a nice rich brown, but take care not to let it to burn.
Remove the pot from heat and pour the butter into a glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Set aside a few hours until the butter has solidified.
Beat the butter until it's fluffy, making sure to scrape up the browned bits that have settled to the bottom of the bowl. Beat in the sugar slowly, followed by the vanilla extract, baking powder and salt.
Shift together the two flours and stir them into the butter mixture. You will have a very crumbly dough. Shape this into two or three logs, about 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter. If the mixture is too crumbly and difficult to shape into logs, then mix in a few drops of water or milk.
Refrigerate until the logs are firm; about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. (Set the oven rack up one notch from the middle.)
Slice the cookies a "generous" 1/4 inch thick and place about 3/4 inch apart on a parchment paper or silicone lined cookie sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until the cookies look slightly puffed and have not yet begun to brown around the edges. (I bake mine longer (15 minutes) until the edges do look browned.)
Remove from oven and cool completely on the cookie sheet giving them the chance to firm up a bit.
* A quarter pound of whole wheat pastry flour actually worked out to 3/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons. I rounded this off to one cup.