Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shortbread Spice Squares

These little taste treats are just perfect for the holidays.  With a buttery shortbread crust and a sweet, fudgy spice filling, your dessert tray will be reduced to naught but crumbs.
This recipe is adapted from one, credited to Gourmet, on Savour Fare.  I had a bit of trouble with the crust my first time through and ended up using a different recipe (Joy of Baking).  These squares are easy to make and the result is lovely - a different kind of cookie; special and delicious!

Shortbread Spice Squares
Filling Adapted from Savour Fare
Crust from Joy of Baking

Shortbread Crust -
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, cold & cut into 1" pieces

3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 tbsp light honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp minced crystallized ginger

*1/3 cup finely chopped walnut or pecans would be awesome to use along with the crystallized ginger!

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a 9"X13" baking dish with parchment paper.

2.  For the Crust: combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to blend.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture.  Process until the mixture resembles wet sand.

3.  Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges a just pale golden.

4.  Meanwhile for the Filling: melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Turn the heat off.  Add the honey, extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and powdered sugar.  Stir to combine.

5.  When the crust is done baking, place the saucepan over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook for 30 seconds, still stirring constantly.  Pour the mixture evenly over the crust (tilt the baking dish as needed to fill to the edges).  Sprinkle the crystallized ginger evenly over the top.  Allow to cool completely.

6.  Cut into squares.  Serve!

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