Hungarian Shortbread (adapted from Julia, Gale, and Jane)
makes 24 pieces, measuring 1¾” x 3”
Note: This recipe is adapted to fit an 8” x 11” fluted rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom.
For the filling-
1 pound rhubarb, rinsed, leaves removed, cut into 1” pieces
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ vanilla, split
1 tablespoon minced, candied ginger (optional)
Place the rhubarb, sugar, and water in a medium non-reactive saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan then add the pod. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb softens. This should take between 8-10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and set the vanilla bean pod aside for another use, if you wish. Add the minced, candied ginger, if using. Let the compote cool completely before covering it and storing it in the refrigerator. This can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. You will only use 1 cup of the compote to fill the shortbread. Any additional can be served alongside the cookies.
For the shortbread-
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (half pound) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1 small orange
2 large egg yolks
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and the orange zest, rubbing the zest into the sugar with your fingers.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at high speed until light. Gradually add the sugar, beating on medium until well incorporated and the mixture is fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated into the butter, sugar, and yolks.
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes, until firm. The dough can be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to a month, if you wish. Thaw overnight, still wrapped, in the refrigerator.
Lightly butter the tart pan and dust with flour, carefully knocking out the excess. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove one portion of dough from the freezer (or fridge if it was thawed.) Grate the dough using a box grater, or place the dough through the shredding disc of a food processor. Sprinkle the dough (generous handfuls) over the bottom of the pan. Lightly pat the dough to ease it into the corners of the pan and create an even layer. Retrieve the rhubarb compote from the fridge and measure out 1 cup. Using a small offset spatula, spread a smooth layer over the dough. Grate the remaining portion of dough or shred it using the food processor. Lightly scatter the dough over the compote layer, taking care not to press it down.
Place the tart pan on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake the shortbread on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven until golden, 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar. Let the cookies cool completely. Carefully remove the tart from the pan and use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut bars measuring 1¾” x 3”. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Baked cookies can also be frozen for up to a month.