Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies & Winter Fruit Salad
When I’m bringing or serving dessert for a gathering with friends, I try to keep things light. Dessert indulgence is a very dear friend of mine, but I generally reserve it for cooking at home or ordering out. The best case scenario is to prepare something that fits as many preferences as possible. This is tricky business with dessert, especially in the winter months when many New Year resolutions mean easy-on-the sweets. There’s nothing worse than unveiling a beautiful triple chocolate fudge cake and having it politely declined by already full guests.
These shortbread cookies and the fruit salad are perfectly delicious on their own, but I enjoy them as a duo for get togethers. The subtle citrus in the cookie is echoed in the fruit salad so they work well together, but bringing both means guests have options.
The beautiful specks of Earl Grey tea in these shortbread cookies give them a playful texture and the hint of bergamot. The orange blossom water captures the soft citrus flavor and brings it to the forefront amid a soft, buttery cookie.
Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
Makes 20-24 cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange blossom water
2 cups flour
¼ cup Earl Grey tea leaves, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
In the bowl of a stand or hand mixer, mix together butter and powdered sugar on low speed until combined. Mix in vanilla extract and orange blossom water. In a separate bowl combine flour, Earl Grey tea and salt. Add these dry ingredients in with the butter and sugar the mix on low speed until just combined into a dough.
Lightly flour a working surface and roll the dough into a log. Wrap in wax paper and continue to roll and shape the log until it's diameter is about two inches.
Twist the edges of the wax paper like a candy wrapper around the dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. The dough will keep up to a week in the refrigerator, but it needs to be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container for durations longer than a few hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Remove cookies from refrigerator and cut into quarter inch slices. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges start to lightly brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Winter Fruit Salad with Orange Blossom Water
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup pomegranate
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon cane sugar
Use whatever fruit you have in season and prepare about a cup of fruit per person.
I use the following prep methods for some of the fruits, but I would love to hear what tips you have up your sleeves for these and other fruits.
Pear - slice the pear in half, remove the core, and slice each half into small slivers.
Grapefruit - cut off the top and bottom ends of the grapefruit then carve off the peel and pith with a serrated knife. Remove the fruit from each section using a paring knife.
Pomegranate - cut off the top and bottom ends of the pomegranate with a serrated knife. Place the pomegranate into a medium-sized bowl that is halfway filled with water. Break up the pomegranate into smaller sections with your hands, using the water as your working space. You may need to cut off a small section of the side skin to get the process started. The water makes separating the skin from the seeds a lot easier; the seeds will sink and the skin will float.
Kiwi - cut off the top and bottom ends of the kiwi and remove the skin using a spoon. Insert the spoon between the edge of the flesh and the skin and move it toward the other open end. Once the spoon is wedged between the flesh of the kiwi and the skin, slowly rotate it to separate the flesh and skin from the entire fruit. Slice the kiwi into smaller sections.
Combine fruit, orange blossom water and sugar. If preparing a few hours in advance, dip the pear and other browning fruits, if using, into a cup of water (1 cup lemon water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice) to prevent browning.
Serve cookies with fruit salad and homemade whipped cream.