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Last Minute Christmas Sweets: Anise Shortbread with Fresh Ginger Butter Cream

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The smell of freshly baked buttery rich shortbread is a wonder to the mind. When you add the sultry sweetness of anise to the equasion, it is almost unbearable. Then to add insult-to-injury, you top that shortbread with a with fresh ginger butter cream and what you have words simply cannot describe.

This cookie (albeit can be classified as a pastry) came about one day when I made a mistake! We hade various shortcakes and cookies baking in the kitchen. Simply by accident, I added anise seeds to one of the doughs. Instead of throwing it out, I baked it. It was very good but it was missing something. From various travels throughout Asia, I was aware of the complimentary tastes between anise and ginger, so I decided to make a rich butter cream with some freshly grated ginger.

When you add the fresh sweetness of the ginger butter cream to the anise shortbread, what you get is a cross between a candy and cookie and the main reason for this is due to the butter cream being cooked!

This recipe does have a few steps to it and is in two parts but it is also quite easy to make at home.

Ingredients needed to make Anise Shortbread:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. anise seeds
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom of a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Into a medium bowl, add all the ingredients. Using a pastry blender (or your fingers) work the ingredients until your have a crumb-like texture.
  3. Place the dough into the prepared pan and pat down.
  4. Place in the oven and bake 25 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.

Ingredients for the Fresh Ginger Butter Cream:

  • 6 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. corn syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Steps:

  1. Into a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and melt.
  2. Once the butter has melted and begins to bubble, whisk in the remaining ingredients until smooth.
  3. Cook and stir the mixture until it comes to a boil and then boil 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour over the anise shortbread (which is still in the pan). Spread the butter cream evenly over the shortbread.
  5. Let it cool completely (the cream will slightly harden since its been cooked and this is what you want).
  6. Cut into bars and serve.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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