04 February 2011

Sovrano Grana and Mushroom Shortbread

Mushrooms are a funny food to me. I think I hate them, on the whole, but I find it hard to not try using them every few weeks. I don't quite learn my lesson, or I see a recipe that looks good, or I think "maybe this time they will taste good". I'm not quite fooling myself, either, because I have enjoyed mushrooms and I even know a kind I can reliably enjoy. But I still branch out from there. So, crazy idea, why not stick some dried mushrooms and some strong cheese on shortbread? Don't mind if I do.
I found myself going to the mushroom shop in the ferry terminal surrounded by things that sounded delicious. Candy mushrooms? Sweet mushrooms? Almond mushrooms? How could any of these things be bad? So I picked up some almond mushrooms and took them home. I opened the bag and almost immediately gagged. These things are strong and pungent. They taste nothing like almond and mostly like ass. I persevered, hoping for the best. The amount you see below is how much I thought I would use, but the smell and taste convinced me to only use half as much (for nine shortbreads about the size of two thumbs put side-by-side). Any hint of mushroom flavor baked out in the oven, so I was left with only their texture. Maybe more next time, or maybe just not mushrooms.
I made a slight change to the recipe I've used in the past, adding a tiny bit of baking powder to get more rise out of the shortbreads, figuring it more fitting for a savory dish. The cooking time/process, however, got miffed a little - they cooked a bit too long and got very crispy internally. You can see the browned bottoms below. The amount of baking powder was a complete guess - 1 teaspoon seemed good, as 1 tablespoon was obviously too much.
Sovrana Grana and Mushroom Shortbreads (makes 9 biscuits/half a cookie sheet)

  • 8 tbsp (1/2 c) flour
  • 4 tbsp (1/4 c) butter
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • few pinches of grated Sovrana Grana (feel free to use any salty, hard cheese)
  • (optional) few dried almond mushrooms, chopped to bits. Use at least twice what you see in my photos
In mixing bowl, "whip" butter. If it is fresh from the fridge, just stir it with a wooden spoon in a small bowl until it gets creamy. Add sugar, blend, add flour and baking powder, blend again. On cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, form biscuits by pinching off a bit of dough. Roll dough between palms quickly to get a sphere, then rock side-to-side while pressing to make a nice biscuit shape. The quicker the better, so the butter doesn't melt.

Put a some of the mushrooms into each biscuit by pressing them in, then plop grated cheese on top of each biscuit, also pressing it in lightly. Place, covered, in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees; cook biscuits for 10 minutes, rotate, and cook for 5-10 minutes more (depending on desired crisp).

I'll do an experiment later with baking powder to get a better feel for how to make lighter, more savory shortbreads.

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