White Pepper Shortbread

by Chef Gale Gand

This recipe comes to TableFare from Chef Gale Gand as part of her contribution to Spice Inspirations. These are tender and delicate with a rich buttery flavor followed by a mild tingle of heat. The white pepper is subtle, but just enough to inspire pause with each bite to savor the flavor.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground white pepper

Method:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Cream the butter until soft in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the ¼ cup sugar and mix until incorporated.  Stir together the flour, cornstarch, salt and white pepper in a medium bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix at low speed just until the ingredients starts to come together.  Flour a work surface, turn the dough onto it, and knead it 5 to 10 times, to bring the dough together and smooth it out.

Reflour your work surface.  With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a little less than 1/4 inch thick fit the 8 X 10 inch baking pan lined with parchment.  To transfer to the sheet pan, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, lift it up, and unroll into the pan.  Using light strokes of the rolling pin, roll the dough into the corners and edges of the pan, and roll out any bumps.  (Or, press the dough thoroughly into the pan with your fingers.)  Prick the shortbread all over with a fork, or use a pique-vite (dough docker) if you've got one, to prevent any buckling or shrinking. Sprinkle the surface evenly with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, deflate the dough by knocking the pan once against the oven rack then rotate the pan to ensure even cooking and a flat surface.  Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until golden all over and very lightly browned.   As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the surface evenly with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Let cool about 5 minutes. 

Using a very sharp knife, cut into three rows by 5 rows making about 11/2-inch X 3-inch bars. Let cool completely in the pan.  Remove from the pan and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

* Note from Carol: I baked these in a standard 8x8 inch pan and it worked just fine.