Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies

Yesterday, on NPR, I heard a story about DC Central Kitchen, a 20 year-old charity that got its start by collecting leftovers from inaugural balls. Today, DC Central Kitchen not only combats hunger, they also provide culinary training--and the chance at a better future--for the homeless.

This year, their students are preparing--under the close watch of Jerome Giradot, the Ritz-Carlton's pastry chef--some very special treats for the Ritz-Carlton's inaugural guests. This year, the DC Central Kitchen students are preparing Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies, about 8,000 of them.

Mrs. Obama was kind enough to share the recipe, and so was NPR, so I'm passing it along to you. If you're looking for a fun way to observe the remarkable, peaceful transfer of power that happens in this country every four or eight years, these cookies sound like a tasty way to do it.

Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon each orange and lemon zest
2 tablespoons amaretto (almond liqueur)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg white
Chopped nuts or dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Mix together butter and 1 ½ cups of sugar.Add egg yolks one at a time and beat until smooth.Stir in flour, zest, amaretto and salt, and mix only until everything is incorporated.Spread dough evenly onto baking pan and brush top of dough with egg white and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle with nuts or fruit if desired. Bake until golden brown, approximately 25 minutes. Cool for a short time, then cut while still warm.

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