These pleasingly sandy rounds of shortbread are served alongside poached rhubarb and macerated strawberries for a bright and sunny hit of springtime that pair well with the buttery cookies.
Excerpted from Frenchie by Greg Marchand (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Djamel Dine Zitout.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time:1 hour 30 minutes
- Shortbread Cookies
- 1 3/4 cups (255 grams) pastry or cake flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (85 grams) fine semolina
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (115 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks/225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Poached Rhubarb
- 2 red rhubarb stalks
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (150 ml.) water
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 4 verbena leaves or 1 tablespoon dried verbena (or substitute the grated zest of 1 lemon)
- 8 ounces (230 grams) small ripe strawberries
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- Whipped Cream
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1 cup (200 ml.) very cold heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
The shortbread cookies: Whisk together the flour and semolina in a bowl. With the tip of a sharp paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds (reserve the pod for another use).
Combine the sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla seeds and lemon zest. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture, in 2 additions, just until incorporated; do not overwork.
Turn the dough out, form it into a thick disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thick. Prick it all over with a fork. With a cookie cutter, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch rounds and place them 1 inch apart on the lined sheets. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Let cool on the pans for at least 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
The poached rhubarb: Cut the rhubarb into 1 1/2-inch-long sections. Combine the sugar, water, split vanilla bean, and verbena in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add the rhubarb. As soon as the liquid returns to a boil, transfer the rhubarb and its cooking syrup to a bowl or other container; make sure the rhubarb is completely submerged. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate.
The strawberries: Wash and hull the strawberries, cut them lengthwise in half, and transfer to a bowl. Add the sugar, toss gently, and set aside to macerate for at least 30 minutes.
The whipped cream: Meanwhile, split the vanilla bean and remove the seeds. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl just to soft peaks. Cover and refrigerate.
To serve: Spoon the rhubarb, with its syrup, into shallow bowls. Using a slotted spoon, add the strawberries, and top with the whipped cream. Finish with a drizzle of strawberry syrup and serve with the shortbread cookies.