“I meet you. I remember you. Who are you? You’re destroying me. You’re good for me. How could I know this city was tailor-made for love? How could I know you fit my body like a glove? I like you. How unlikely. I like you. How slow all of a sudden. How sweet. You cannot know. You’re destroying me. You’re good for me. You’re destroying me. You’re good for me. I have time. Please, devour me. Deform me to the point of ugliness. Why not you? Why not you in this city and in this night, so like other cities and other nights you can hardly tell the difference? I beg of you.” - Marguerite Duras, from Hiroshima Mon Amour.
Lemon, Pink Peppercorn and White Chocolate Shortbread and fragmentations of thought from this weekend. June so far has been a thousand sleepless nights of chill and fever. The dreams that come, in awakening and silence. I find I am without myself once more. And so I fall into the dreams of Winter to remember. I see you, I see the sun, I see the cold, I am the cold, I am the last of the golden light, the leaves that fall. I’ll trade a handful of blossoms for a handful of memories in the hope of eternal beauty. And I’ll steal a handful more to remember it forever. Either an oasis or an oblivion. Things end.
I’ll let you in on something. I’m enamoured by shortbread. There’s something about the nature of a crumbled morsel that I can’t help but love. It’s honest, familiar, comforting, and full of warmth. And this Lemon, Pink Peppercorn and White Chocolate Shortbread is my best rendition yet. With rounded notes of floral spice, brightness from overly zested lemon, and sugared pockets of an almost deeply caramelised white chocolate, they’re everything. For you, for me, for us, for the season, everything.
Make sure to avoid over-mixing the shortbread dough. Over-mixed dough results in tough and not tender shortbread due to the increased gluten development. It’s better to have a dough with a few floury pockets then one without. So, watch the mixture carefully when adding the flour. It shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds for it to become just incorporated. Then, finish mixing by hand by folding in the white chocolate chunks.
You can play around with the flavor combinations in this recipe with great results. For instance, the pink peppercorns can be substituted and replaced with another herbaceous and spiced note like lavender, mint, or thyme. The white chocolate can also be substituted. Another favorite combination I’ve tried is rosemary, dark chocolate and orange. This shortbread is the perfect blank canvas.
Remember to slice the shortbread with a sharp knife while it is still warm for even and neat squares.
LEMON, PINK PEPPERCORN AND WHITE CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD
240 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
Zest from 1 small lemon
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
½ teaspoon salt
275 g all-purpose flour, sifted
140 g white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 180 c (350 f). Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) square baking tin with non-stick parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Pause mixing to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla bean extract, lemon zest, half the pink peppercorns, and salt. Add in the flour and beat until just combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixing and use a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix in the white chocolate chunks until evenly incorporated throughout the dough.
Press the dough into the prepared baking tin, making sure to spread it into an even layer and to the edges of the tin. Sprinkle the teaspoon of granulated sugar and the remaining half of the pink peppercorns over the shortbread, then, use a sharp knife to score the top into evenly sized squares.
Bake, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until puffed, just firm, and lightly golden. Remove from the oven let the shortbread cool for 15 minutes in its tin before carefully transferring it out and onto a wire rack. Slice the shortbread into even squares, similar in size to how you scored it before baking, while it is still warm. Let cool before serving.