Anything with chunks of butter makes me very happy, therefore it goes without saying that I have an embarrassing weakness for shortbread. Maybe it’s because I grew up bereft of butter in Malaysia, where Planta, a margarine masquerading as a butter substitute was used in all manner of culinary endeavours. And yes, you can absolutely believe it’s not butter.
I spied this in Fiona Smith’s The Sweetest Things article in the September 2011 Cuisine magazine. Inexplicably, I had the Fresh As freeze-dried passionfruit powder in my pantry; I had come across it at Farro Fresh (available online from souschef.co.nz) and had been intrigued by the possibilities. However, I like the charming speckles of passionfruit seeds, so I adapted the recipe by reducing the sugar and adding some passionfruit syrup.
These are great; passionfruit gives it an delightful fragrance and freeze-dried powder is a lot cheaper compared to using fresh fruit (unless you have a passionfruit vine, in that case, could I be your friend?) and less messy. I made two batches, and they were all gone in days (and I swear it wasn’t just by me!).
Ingredients (makes 32 biscuits):
250g plain flour
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
80g icing sugar
10g Fresh As passionfruit powder
80g passionfruit in syrup
Preheat oven to 140°C. (Ms Smith’s recipe suggested putting all the ingredients in a food processor until well combined, but since I’m lacking a large enough food processor, I did it the old fashioned way). Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Then add in the other ingredients and mix until well combined.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until pliable. Form into a rectangle 32cm x 8cm x 2cm. Wrap in plastic film and chill for at least 1 hour.
Cut into 1cm fingers. Place on baking paper on baking sheet and prick with fork. These shortbread fingers will expand on cooking, so leave plenty of space in between. (I was overly optimistic, and nearly ended up with a sheet of shortbread). Otherwise, like me, you’ll need a paring knife to cut them into pieces as soon as they come out of the oven.
Bake for 35 minutes until pale golden. The passionfruit powder will cause the shortbread to darken, so you will need to keep an eye on this towards the end.