Sometimes, when I’m milling around my kitchen whipping up my latest tasty treat, I’m not always sure that everyone will like what I’m making. It’s not because I lack confidence, it’s simply inevitable since creating something that appeals to every palate is exceedingly difficult.
There is a lovely lady at work who brings in homemade baked sweet treats regularly. Every time, she kindly offers me a sample of her wares. I have to say, she really knows her way around the kitchen. Sometimes when it’s slow we’ve been known to converse about food, wine or our favorite chefs. It’s great for me because my job has nothing to do with food, save for the odd Omaha Steaks package zipping past on its way to some hungry consumer. About a week ago she brought in a gigantic flat of Plant City Strawberries. They were the most beautiful shade of ruby-red. I was surprised when she gave me a whole carton to take home for myself. Surprised, because if our places were reversed, I’d have eaten all of them myself without sharing a single bite. All of us Floridians know what time it is, it’s strawberry season. We’ve the got the little beauties coming from all directions. So many it seems, that we resort to giving them away to our co-workers for goodness sake!
With my strawberries in tow, I promised my buddy at work that I would try to make something for her using her sweet gift. A few days went by and other things preoccupied my time and kitchen. One day after dinner, after everything calmed down at the house and there was nothing good on T.V., I got bored and started exploring the fridge. I had completely forgot about the promise I had made just a few days earlier. When I opened the produce drawer, it hit me! Shortbread cookies, with macerated and roasted strawberries on top. This was perfect because the strawberries were starting to lose their crimson luster.
I already knew the recipe I would use. I had read an article in Bon Appetit about one of my wish list restaurants called Faviken in Sweden. The chef, Magnus Nillson, shared a recipe for one of his favorites, whole wheat shortbread cookies. With the recipe in mind, I began taking inventory to see if I could pull if off with what I had in my pantry. These ingredients are all basic staples one should always have on hand. I tweaked a few things to give it that “Logan Flair”, but I feel like I respected the original concept and created a nutty, hearty cookie that isn’t just an empty sweet. You can make the strawberry part ahead of time, because it takes a while to pull the juices from the fruit, or you can make the dough a day or two in advance as well just to have it ready to go when the time is right.
Ingredients for Cookies
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup light brown cane sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
Ingredients for macerated strawberries
- 20 strawberries cut into rough chop
- 2 Tbsp light brown cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- zest from 1/2 lemon
- Place strawberries, 1 Tbsp sugar, lemon juice and almond extract in a bowl. Let sit 1 hour. strain jus through sieve, into a small sauce pan on low-mid heat. Put strawberries back in bowl and add last Tbsp of sugar. Let sit again for 15 minutes while the strawberry liquid is reducing. Strain strawberries once more into sauce pan. Let liquid reduce for another 15 minutes. Combine reduced juice/syrup and strawberries together and set aside. You should end up with a loose preserve.
- Pre-heat oven to 400°. Whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add butter; using your fingertips, rub in butter until coarse meal forms. Whisk egg and yolk in a bowl; add to flour mixture; stir just to blend.
- Butter 2 non stick cookie sheets. Measure dough 2 tablespoons at a time and roll into balls. It might take a while to get used to rolling the highly crumbly dough. Be patient. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 2″ apart. Make an indentation in center of each ball; fill each with 1 teaspoon of strawberry mixture. Bake cookies until golden, 12–14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. You have to do this immediately!!! These cookies are very fragile. Don’t ruin them!
Let me explain a few things before you go out and conquer this great recipe like a modern-day Leif Ericson. The reason I spend the time to extract the juice from the fruit, instead of just cooking everything down together in a sauce pan, is because you’ll lose that distinct strawberry flavor. All you’d end up is a sweet mushy goo, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we’re going for a punchy strawberry flavor here. It really doesn’t take much effort. You can go off and do something else like make the dough while you wait. Also, I add salt instead of using salted butter because I want to feel the coarse grains in the finished product. This cookie is not what I would consider super-sweet. It’s just plain good. I described it to all that partook as a cookie/scone hybrid because those are the characteristics that I saw in the texture and taste. They might not be for everyone but they were a hit at the office. This recipe makes about 14 cookies, so do some math if it’s not enough to feed your crew. Skål!