Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pandan Shortbread Cookies

Happy Mother's Day.

What does a mother really want on this special day? For me, I want everything to be simple and nice. No stress and no screeching surprises scream from the kids. And a moment of silence when I can reflect, relax and have my cup of tea in peace and a bite of the most simple of all sweet things... the cookie.

Curry got me a cake mixer and I am very happy as I no longer see myself abandoning my interest in baking anymore and with a red one, my passion for mixing and kneading will only grow! My only dilemma now is where to put it as my countertop space is so limited and the mixer is still sitting in its box till now!

My old high school friend, MegJoe as she fondly referred herself to these days, is so passionate about the English Jane Austen novels that I sometimes think that she is a reincarnation of Jane Austen herself! I used to be a romantic soul myself and during my university times in England, my girlfriends and I never missed a BBC production of any of the classics from Jane Austen despite having tonnes of coursework to finish off. We love to feast our eyes on the ever dashing looking Englishmen characters of the 19th century while the heroine wondering amongst many suitors and the final chosen partner is always the unexpected and a far cry from all the conventional choices!

MegJoe loves pandan and wanted cheese too. But these 2 ingredients cannot exist along well in one entity and to use both together means skimming on one to make room for the other. But nothing is impossible as in the love of the quiet and handsome Mr. Darcy and carefree and stubborn Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and so I thought of something easy and possibly the easiest to make among all the things in the Bake galore so far.

Shortbread cookies originated from Scotland and although not English thoroughly, anyone visiting England will surely carry a pack or two of these lovely buttery goodies back as souvenirs. I added Pandan flavor to half of the shortbread dough and retained the other half in its original buttery color. The filling is sweet cream cheese frosting, piled on daintily and not overflowing to create the right bite. I used Lingonberry jam to fill the little mirror part. In line with MegJoe's fondness of the pretty and ladylike, I used a lace eyelet mold to create the subtle design on the cookies before the baking.

Shortbread, as its name suggests, is very Short...meaning buttery and crumbly in the language of the baking world. Its dough is not difficult to work with and it is best to mix the butter and sugar while the butter is still cool to the touch and by the time it is rolled and shaped, it will have already reached the right room temperature. Pandan paste has a stronger concentration than pandan essence, hence I used only 1/2 of a teaspoon which resulted in a pretty green with subtle sweet smell. A sweet cream cheese filling balanced off the richness of the buttery cookies and true to its core, it melts in the mouth with a lingering butter taste to the palate.

I think I am right to say that all Mothers love things simple and nice. After all those pregnancy months, laboring, caring and nurturing, life cannot get any more simpler than having a quiet time with a cup of tea and a piece of cookie. MegJoe, I hope you like this one and may you enjoy your day with your 'Mr.Darcy' and his clan.

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