Confit-dentially

My culinary school is having a scholarship contest. First prize is $3,000 towards first quarter’s tuition. That’s a pretty large chunk of change. Plus, imagine being the winner, starting off your tenure as a culinary student with a win like that under your belt. Pretty major boost in confidence, I’d say.

I just found out about the contest at the end of November, so I had to work fast if I wanted to hit the January 3rd deadline. Today, I’m sharing one of my three original recipes required in the contest rules: Savory Thyme Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Fig Confit & Goat Cheese Filling.

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Basic shortbread is a simple recipe that comes together quickly, and this one requires only one additional ingredient— fresh thyme. These sandwich cookies are rich, and more savory than sweet, which make them a good one (or maybe two) bite appetizer with a glass of wine.

Shortbread
Ingredients:                                                               
2 C All-Purpose flour                                                                      
¼ C confectioner’s sugar                                
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves                     
¾ tsp salt
1 C unsalted, room temperature butter                                
Water (if necessary)       

Equipment:
Large mixing bowl
Wooden mixing spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Electric hand mixer or food processor
Plastic wrap
Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
Baking sheet
Wide spatula 
Wire cooling rack
Knife & small cutting board for chopping

Instructions:
Combine the flour, sugar, salt and thyme in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with an electric hand beater (or in a food processor) just until the mixture forms a soft dough. The dough should hold together when squeezed in your hand. If the dough is not forming, mix in water 1 tsp at a time by hand until the dough holds together.

Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface, and move the dough onto it. Along the edge nearest to you, form the dough into a log approximately 2” in diameter. Roll the dough log forward, wrapping it in the plastic. Twist the ends in opposite directions until the dough is compact. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm it up.

Once the dough is firm, pre-heat the oven to 375°. Line the baking sheet with the parchment or baking mat. Slice the dough into 1/3” slices and place 1” apart on the baking sheet. Bake just until the edges of each cookie start to brown, about 12 minutes. Allow the shortbread to cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then move them to the wire rack to finish cooling. This recipe makes 30 cookies.

Fig Confit
Ingredients:
                                                                           
¾ C + 3 T red wine (I used 2011 14 Hands Merlot)               
3 C dried Turkish figs, cut into quarters                                
½ C granulated sugar
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/8 tsp salt

Equipment:
Medium saucepan with a lid
Spoon to stir
Knife and cutting board

Instructions:
Put all ingredients into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow to reduce for about 20 minutes. The confit should be bubbling and thick. Using the back of the spoon, mash any large chunks of fig until the confit is spreadable. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Additional Ingredients:
4-6 oz softened goat cheese (You could use regular cream cheese if you’re not a goat cheese fan. I would just recommend that you stick to cheeses that have a bit of a tang.)

Construction:
Gently spread approximately 1 ½ tsp of confit onto half of the shortbread cookies. Spread the other half of the cookies with 1 tsp of the softened goat cheese. Bear in mind that shortbread can be a bit delicate, so it’s important to handle them lightly while spreading the filling.

Place one cookie spread with fig, filling side down, into one cookie spread with goat cheese to form a sandwich. Repeat with all the cookies. 

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