Friday, December 24, 2010

Toasted coconut & Sesame Shortbread

Christmas for me in terms of memories were localized to Nairobi, Kenya, where I spent a chunk of of my growing up years. Our neighbors were Goan & I can still mentally taste the Christmas platter of home made goodies that used to be sent up the week of the 25th. Cheese straws, fruitcake, Karanji's filled with coconut & sesame..these were the first things that came to mind & acting on my thoughts i decided to whip up a batch of shortbread cookies with the aim of incorporating the flavors of karanjis which are deep fried traditional festive desserts made with coconut, common to western India ( in addition, shortbread , is possibly one of the few cookie recipes that do not compulsorily call for eggs which I try to work around due to my inherent lethargy!)
Shortbread is a cookie made primarily from flour, butter & sugar. Its  a classic Scottish dessert &  due to the expensive ingredients that went into it, it was reserved for special occasions such as Christmas, New year & weddings. For more history on shortbread..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortbread (wikipedia, what else!!)

For the shortbread, you need
1 cup all purpose flour (plus some extra for rolling the dough)
1/2 cup sugar (more if you prefer a sweeter taste)
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp ground cardamom,
1/3rd cup shredded coconut
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds.

Preheat oven to 350 C.
Toast the shredded coconut till its golden & emits a nutty aroma.


Set aside to cool (I used the fresh coconut since it has an extra dose of moisture that works well in the recipe)
Cream sugar & butter till light & fluffy.

prior to creaming. couldn't risk greasing the camera!!

Add the flour, toasted sesame seeds, cardamom & coconut to the creamed butter & work into a ball, do not over knead as this can make the dough tough.
 Flatten into a disk, wrap with wax paper & refrigerate for ~ 1 hr.
 Remove from the fridge onto a clean floured surface & roll into a 1/4 inch thick sheet. Cut into shapes & place onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.
Bake for ~ 10-12 minutes or until the cookie begins to appear brown at the edges.
 Remove from the oven. let the cookies cool completely  on a rack before storing in an airtight container.

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