I have to say that these Baking with Julia recipes have been quite deceptive when it comes to the name of a recipe. What I read and expect to come of it is completely different from what we wind up making and varies in complexity… sometimes it seems like too much effort for a recipe and at other times, very little preparation and effort for a long bake time and a great recipe in the end. Is it just me?
At first glance, I was turned off of this recipe since I had never seen a shortbread with jam in it and short of some linzer cookies I prefer my shortbread, jam-less. But after thinking about it, I decided to cut out making my own jam, especially rhubarb since I don’t care for it much and decided to use another preserve. Our Tuesdays with Dorie page is riddled with ideas for different preserves so I decided to just play it by ear and use whatever was in my pantry/fridge, which is apricot. Something that I have just gravitates towards lately, ever since I was pregnant with Mei the regular blackberry, raspberry and strawberry just seem too sweet. This in mind, I cut back the sugar in the recipe just a tich and used brown sugar for the rest of the sugar required for the recipe. While this will color my shortbread a light brown color, I’m happy with the substitution.
Grating the dough was a bit more of a chore than I had anticipated. If I make this again I would freeze smaller chunks rather than half at a time so that as the dough warms in your hand while you are grating, it doesn’t become such a pain to grate. It winds up just looking like a sticky play-doh experiment gone wrong. After awhile, I just flattened bits of the dough in my palm and then peeled it up, which broke it into rough chunks that I laid in the bottom of my tart pan – which I thought would give it a nice fluted edge.
After reading the P & Q for this one, I chose to par-bake the bottom layer, not being a fan of raw cookie dough myself and I think it wound up being more agreeable for me this way. Dusting the end product with powdered sugar made for a mess on the counter and made it so my patience for this treat to cool before I could slice and eat a bit of it practically unbearable. However, I managed to hold out until it was just at room temperature so Mei and I shared a last minute midnight snack before bed.
WE LOVED IT! The 1/2 C of regular sugar and the 1-1/2 C of packed brown sugar was the perfect combination with the tartness of the apricot and the powdery sweetness of the sugar that had partly melted on top it was the perfect midnight snack. In fact, tomorrow morning is going to be pretty amazing since it will be a small slice of this shortbread and a large cup of Scottish tea!
This was a pill to assemble and possibly only something that I would make for a special occasion but worth it for the endless possibilities! I would love to try it with other citrus marmalades, possibly even a grapefruit one. The only thing I would change is the pan I baked it in. The fluted tart pan, even with the removable bottom, was very difficult to navigate with this one. The jam stuck the shortbread to the side of the pan pretty good … something less fluted and more straight would be best, unless you are making individual shortbreads which isn’t a terrible idea either!
If you would like to see how the rest of the group fared, click here! Want to join in the fun? Pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking with Julia,” check the schedule and get to baking!!