Why were these cookies so expensive you ask? Well because they were made with imported French cultured butter that costs $6.95 a block, and with fair-trade organic unrefined cane sugar from the Philippines and organic stone-milled flour. Before you judge me, I know you have if at least only once, been guilty of the same offence. Now don’t make me ask you how many cookbooks you own, and yes I'm talking to you.
What can I say; consumerism runs rampant in this household, and prudence is not a virtue I possess. I’m aware that there are certain costs you incur through the process of food blogging, but I think I need to draw the line with $6.95 butter; it wasn’t even a whole block! Butter in Australia come in 250g blocks, and this was only half a block! You might be thinking, “You bought the bloody butter, why are you complaining?” Well I am having this gripe because the butter was incorrectly priced; they were sitting innocently under a ticket marked $3.95, which would already have been quite steep for butter. But of course I still buy it, in fact I buy two. I thought to myself, it’s French, it’s cultured, it has fancy packaging and a name I can’t pronounce, it has to be good. So I buy this good butter thinking it was this price ($3.95) only to arrive home, check the receipt and be gob smacked at the actual price of the butter ($6.95).
Lamenting the fact that I had just bought $13.90 worth of churned cow’s milk, the butter consequently sat in my refrigerator untouched for days, dubbed “too good to use”. I would open the fridge door and look at the butter, occasionally take it out, smell it, then promptly put in back in the fridge lest oxidation ruin it. There was no way I was going to ruin these two sticks of very expensive butter. If I had a mantelpiece or a glass cabinet, this is where they would be proudly displayed. It’s too bad I can't wear them or drive them pompously down the street to show off, because well, it’s butter. Nevertheless very expensive butter. At least when I buy an utterly cute, yet overly priced pair of Marc Jacob flats I can put them on and publicly parade them for everyone to covet. Unfortunately there’s no straightforward covet-strategy for butter.
Not to demonise this improperly priced stick of Saint Mêre Beurre D’Isigny, in its defence I must add that it is without contest the best butter I have tasted- so creamy, rich and smooth, with subtle hints of nuttiness. Its taste transcends any other butter I have encountered, not that this is difficult here in Australia, we’re not really known for our butter. With the exception of Gympie Farm Cultured Butter, I cannot say I recall any high quality Australian butters. Suffice to say, after tasting this Beurre D’Isigny I was persuaded to make use of its exquisite taste by making Shortbread.
Since frugality has been lost on these cookies, I decided to also make use of my equally costly Alter Eco Organic Unrefined Cane Sugar from the Philippines. I have yet to meet a sugar I didn’t like; this one is pleasantly mild, not overly cloying and melts easily. The sugar is described as “naturally moist and has a rich taste with hints of vanilla”, quite like Muscovado sugar although not as robust in flavour.
It is evident that buying overindulgent, superfluous foodstuffs is my vice. I don’t know what it is but the allure of buying these sorts of things is a compulsion I find hard to control. Mustering the strength to say no to purchasing sugars from Barbados and vanilla beans from Madagascar is just too difficult for this poor defenceless baker. It appears that every time I go to the markets I am duped into buying a new type of ingredient all to the dismay of G, who has never understood my attraction to such acquisitions. Not that he is one to judge; the same manner of self restraint I apply to food shopping he does with wrist-watches. The man cannot stop buying watches.
Despite the occasional bout of buyer’s remorse, I think as long as there are exotic foodstuffs available, the shopping will certainly continue. Just keep me away from the David Jones Foodhall.
(makes 20 small cookies)
Adapted from this recipe
1¼ cup flour
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup ground cane sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
Using your fingers, rub together the flour and butter until it resembles coarse meal.
Add the baking powder and salt and mix to combine.
In another bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add this mixture to the flour and mix until blended.
Roll dough into a ball and cover in plastic film and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll your dough to a thickness of 0.5cm.
Cut out shapes from dough using a cookie cutter.
Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.