At Christmas we all like to show our gratitude for those who come into our life once a day—the garbageman, the postal carrier, the neighbor who’s always borrowing something. I like to make something to give, hoping they’ll consider it more special than money. Hoping.
One year I harvested lavender from my garden and made it into sachets for everyone (the garbage man was particularly delighted). Another time I made my own curry powder—which went over big with every one except the friend who’d never eaten anything spicier than a boiled potato.
So this year I decided to bake something—no one could complain about cookies. I thought about fruitcake, but realized I’m the only one who wouldn’t complain about fruitcake. So I settled for Rosemary Candied Ginger Shortcake and Bourbon Balls. Both were hailed as perfect, so I’m giving you the chance to make your mailman happy too.
Candied ginger rosemary shortbread
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup superfine sugar
1 to 1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon plus 1 pinch salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter
1 T lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
½ cup candied ginger (4 oz. or 8 T)
- Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a bit hanging out. If you like, brush with butter or spray.
- In a food processor, chop rosemary, zest, and ginger.
- Add flour, sugar, and salt and pulse together.
- Cut butter into 1-inch chunks, and add them along with the lemon juice, to the flour. Pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don’t over-process. Dough should not be smooth.
- Press dough into baking pan or pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until firm but not hard, , 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm. You can use the parchment paper to lift the bars out.
Makes about 16.
You can use 15 x 5 pan or a 9-inch pan. Bake 40-45 minutes.
Alternate: substitute for rosemary 1 T preserved lemon, or
ground cardamom, or equal parts lemon thyme, lemon verbena and lemon balm.
2 cups toasted pecans
1 12-oz box vanilla wafers
2 cups confectioners sugar, plus additional for rolling the balls
½ cup good cocoa
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ cup bourbon (I use Jack Daniels Tennessee sipping whiskey)
In a food processor crush the pecans and wafers. Put in large bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly using your hands.
Roll into 1-inch balls with your hands, then roll in confectioners sugar.
Keep in an airtight container.
Makes about 45.
Alternate: You can substitute rum for the bourbon, or use ¼ cup bourbon plus ¼ cup rum.