This year has presented itself with something unexpected. Something that seemed like such an unattainable luxury last year. It was unnecessary to our existence, but its absence was felt on many occasions. By some strange alignment of the stars, the necessary factors lined up and the baking stork (also known as my mother-in-law) brought us a special gift: a toaster oven!
Maybe you weren’t expecting all of that excitement over a toaster oven. You’re probably saying, “Seriously Rachael. Get your priorities straight!” But seriously. I could not be more thrilled to have this tiny machine that sits perfectly on top of my refrigerator. It can toast, it can bake, it can broil. And it isn’t the size of Brad’s shoe. (Brad’s shoes are huge, but when this comparison is used in relation to an oven it is nothing!)
In the spirit of this new found arena of culinary pleasures, I am sharing a recipe I have made at least 3 times since we have been back in our Japanese kitchen. A while ago, Kamran, from The Sophisticated Gourmet, hosted the Blogger Secret Ingredient Challenge, which was brown sugar. The winning recipe ended up being brown sugar cookies, which inspired me to develop this recipe for brown sugar shortbread.
I added a second secret ingredient to my cookies: white wine. When I was in Italy, I learned to make white wine cookies and I loved the light citrus flavor that resulted. This lightness paired with the rich brown sugar was a match made in heaven. To make it even more appealing, I topped each little shortbread cookie with a teaspoon of my homemade fig jam. In the words of Chris Farley, holy cannoli!
These cookies are great for back-to-school, when schedules get busy. The dough can be made in a big batch and frozen to use as needed. And it is so versatile! You can add your favorite store-bought jam or just bake them plain. Either way, you will be addicted!
Brown Sugar Shortbread with Fig Jam
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
10 tablespoons room temperature butter
2/3 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 1/2 cups flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Cream the butter, sugar and salt with an electric mixer or by hand. Add the egg yolk and mix until fully incorporated. Add the wine and mix until incorporated.
Carefully add the flour a little at a time until it is mixed in fully and the dough comes together into the bowl and is very slightly crumbly but not dry. Form the dough into a ball and divide in two. Dust a work area with flour.
Roll the two halves of dough into logs approximately 1 foot in length and 1 1/2″ in diameter. Slice the dough into 3/4″ cookies. Arrange the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Using the back of a spoon or your thumb, press a little indentation in the center of each cookie. Using a small teaspoon, spoon a small amount of the fig jam onto each cookie.
Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.