Monday, January 17, 2011

Tartine Shortbread

Tartine Shortbread Cookies

We absolutely love Tartine in San Francisco. Since we can only get out that way once a year (if we're lucky), the Tartine cookbook was going to have to fill in the 51 weeks out of the year.

Only recently was this book cracked open, but there are two things that really drive me nuts about cookbooks with a focus on baking. The first is recipes that use volumetric measures for dry ingredients. I love Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc, but that damn book uses volumetric measurements for the baking recipes. I've seen my fair share of things turn out "iffey" over a tad too much or too little of dry something or other. (Keller's chocolate chip cookies come to mind.) Second, is a recipe that tells you what to do but not why. It's the little nuanced explanations that allow the home cook's knowledge of what they're doing grow because of these little nuggets.

The Tartine cookbook is definitely one for the bookshelf (and uses measurements for both ounces and grams). When I told Regina I was making shortbread cookies she groaned. Before the actual recipe starts, the authors explain why they use cornstarch rather than rice flour or potato starch. They said that cornstarch basically creates a softer melt-in-the-mouth texture, while the other two result in a firmer even crunchy kind of shortbread. Armed with the information you're almost being dared to try the other two out, just to see what happens.

I'm a note taker when it comes to cookbooks. If something doesn't seem right I'll typically jot it down on the actual page so I don't make the same mistake twice. In this recipe they call for cutting the cookies into 2"x1/2" rectangles. If you know what this actually looks like, you know there's no way these cookies are that small. I cut them to 2"x1" and the seem to look just like the picture. You could maybe cut them 2"x3/4", but I still think they'd be pretty small.

My only other note is to make sure you let these set up over night. When they've only been out of the oven for an hour or two they're way too soft. An overnight stay in the fridge seem to give them the perfect firmness. The superfine sugar is an absolute must. Don't use regular sugar! You can warm the bottom of the glass pan on the stove to help loosen the cookies' grip on the glass dish.

The book is awesome. Get it

Here's a link to the recipe

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