April 25, 2008

Cardamom and Candied Ginger Shortbread

This will be my first time entering the Royal Foodie Joust. I saw this month's ingredients: brown sugar, cardamom and mango and my mind immediately went to mangoes on cardamom shortbread. My father is a huge fan of Walker's shortbread and I love their candied ginger flavor. I thought it would be even better with brown sugar and cardamom added. I have to admit to almost nibbling away on all of the shortbread by itself! I'm going to be making this shortbread again, a lot! It's crunchy, chewy, sweet and spicy. I added a little black pepper for heat and some barley flour for nuttiness. You could definitely use only all-purpose flour or replace the barley flour with whole wheat pastry flour if you'd like. I topped the shortbread with a cold, spiced-up mango salad and a rich cashew cream to make it more festive but keep it dairy-free. The mango salad and cashew cream are excellent with the spicy shortbread and together they make a beautiful little dessert. Here are the recipes:

Cardamom And Candied Ginger Shortbread Cookies
These are chewy, spicy shortbread cookies heady with the flavor of cardamom and bits of candied ginger.
Makes 13 3-inch cookies

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup barley flour (or more all-purpose)
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup margarine (or butter)
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger, 1/8 inch dice

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Mix together flours, cardamom, pepper and salt. Set aside
-Cream sugar and margarine (or butter) together.
-Add in flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add in ginger and mix again until evenly distributed.
-Gently roll out dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut 3 inch diameter circles of dough and place on a cookie sheet. Prick surface with a fork to prevent bubbles in the dough.
-Bake for 10 minutes (6-8 minutes for 1 inch rounds) or until lightly golden.
-Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheets until firm.

Mango Salad
Makes ~2 1/2cups

2 ripe mangoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon lime juice, more to taste

-Mix ingredients together and store for an hour or more in a refrigerated covered container.
-Serve on top of shortbread.

Cashew Cream
This makes way more than needed to top the cookies. You can use the rest on top of fruit, cereal or granola or freeze it and eat it like ice cream.
Makes 2 cups

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
1 tablespoon of agave nectar (or your choice of sweetener), more to taste
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice

-Blend the nuts and water on high until smooth and frothy.
-Add in the sweetener, lime juice and zest. Taste and adjust accordingly.
-Serve on top of mango salad.
-Store extra in the fridge or freezer.