Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ginger Amaranth Shortbread

I baked these cookies last night and smuggled a few into the fabulous Mustaches for Kids event that I went to. My lovely friend and Mustache organizer S. Compton's words were," should blog about these." Yes ma'am.

I am a ginger addict. I eat the candied stuff from New Seasons like crazy. Sometimes I sit at my desk and look at the clock, thinking exactly how long it will be until I can go buy some, all the while imagining how delicious it will taste. I don't keep any at home because I would eat it all in one sitting and make myself sick. Seriously. Sometimes I just eat raw ginger. I just love ginger.

Luckily for me, ginger happens to be very good for the body. It has long been used as a cure for digestive problems in Eastern medicine. Fresh ginger can help with neaseau, motion sickness, indigestion, and cramps. Fresh ginger can be grated and steeped in hot water, along with honey and lemon juice, to make a tea.

But most importantly, it's damn tasty. Especially when combined with some whole grain flours, a little sugar, and a hell of a lot of butter. I had never made these cookies before last night and they turned out amazing on the first try. Buttery, rich, and gingery. The original recipe called for mostly white whole wheat flour, but I like to make my own flour blends so I used three different kinds. I've included my own version below.

Ginger Amaranth Shortbread cookies, based on the recipe by Heidi Swanson from her book Super Natural Cooking

cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup (or way more, if you're me) minced crystallized ginger

Combine flours, salt, and ground ginger. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined and crumbly. Gently stir in crystallized ginger by hand. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface, then knead dough once or twice to bring it together. Flatten in a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes. It may still be somewhat crumbly, but chilling in the fridge helps the dough come together.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out to desired thickness and cut into shapes (I used a smallish glass to make circles). Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10-15 minutes, or until bottoms start to brown. Baking time will vary depending on the size of the cookies.

*The original recipe says to freeze cookies for 10 minutes before baking, but I forgot to do that and they were just fine. Also, if you don't have amaranth flour and don't want to shell out for it, you can use all purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, or whole wheat pastry flour instead. And, parchment paper is the best. No sticking, no burning, less mess. Buy some, asap.

I did some ginger research in two of my books:
Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford
The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Vasant Lad

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