Friday, July 21, 2006

These Cookies Were Not Cheap

Cane Sugar Shortbread

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).

Beurre D'Isigny

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.

Organic Ground Cane Sugar from the Philippines

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

Cane Sugar Cookies

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.

Cane Sugar Shortbread


wheresmymind said...

Well...hello Ms. Fancypants! lol..I love shortbread and those look incredible!

kickpleat said...

these cookies do look amazing and i hope worth every penny! and let me be the first to covet your butter.

oh and nice blog you have here! thanks for stopping by mine :)

Helene said...

That butter is soooo good! Hey, I'm French, I'm imported and I have a (the real one) name people can't pronounce...but I always up to no good! Great picture, great recipe!

Sam said...

I completely sympathize and relate to your situation. The world needs people like us!

mooncrazy said...

I am so going to make these cookies, ah once it gets under 80 degrees here which might be October, sigh.

And I buy Presidente butter, imported but not as expensive and oh so very tasty for cookies.

Audrey said...

The pefrfect combination - retail therapy and tasty cookies. When one leads to another it's even better. The cookies look great. I love the background in the photos. I'm a bit out of control in David Jones foodhall too.

Bron said...

Hehe, so did you worked out what each one of those gorgeous wee shortbread cookies cost you?

Anyway I know how you feel, I blew my food budget right out of the water last week with a tin of Matcha! opps!

J said...

hi, looks amazing! and certainly worth every last extra cent ... i'm very big on good butter :)

jenjen said...

wheresmymind- yes that is my new name. I have a new found love for shortbread after these cookies.

Kickpleat- after the initial shock, I think it was definitely worth the EXTRA bucks

Helene- does that then mean you are expenisve too : ) So how exactly do you pronounce its name?

Sam- Yes I totally agree, economies would collapse if we stopped consuming!

Mooncrazy- yes this recipe is not one for those hot days when the last thing you want to do is be in front of an oven.

Audrey- its probably the perfect indulgence shopping and eating.

Bron- I was actually thinking about doing that although I kind of didn't want to know.
And yes, matcha can be real expensive.

ann said...

oh i adore butter!
my biggest butter splurge is goat's milk butter that sells for about the same price in US$ which is about A$9!
but, it's worth it, especially when making mashed potatoes, to which i also add goats milk and some goats cheese (and some peas for sweetness)
oh my god, when is it going to get cool so i can cook again!?!

Tanna said...

No I don't have too many cookbooks.
Your picture makes these look incredible especially the inside. Wonder if there's butter that's any more expensive.
Shortbread...such a simple thing. I want to try them.

Anna said...

Well this means you are the perfect customer for Black Pearl chocolate! Give the wasabi-chocolate brownies a try :).

Exotic Chocolate!

bea at La Tartine Gourmande said...

I think I suffer from the same disease! But with results like this, there is no guilt feeling to have!

miss cupcake said...

I understand this temporary insanity only too well when I almost handed over US$13 for a small jar of Clement Faugier chestnut cream here in Buenos Aires! But the shortbread look gorgeous; oh btw, are you framing the lovely looking foil?

bcinfrance said...

My children want me to make more cookies. Your blog just might inspire me to do it!

Lynda said...

Great site, from an even newer newbie! Your description has inspired me to make a trip to my local (very expensive) luxury food emporium and make something to die for. Wish I could do it this weekend, but I'm all booked up - but maybe by the following weekend (at which time perhaps it will have cooled off a little here in Southern California!)

jenjen said...

Ann- wow goat's milk butter. I would pay anything to have a try of that! I must investigate whether I can get some here.

Tanna- i'm sure if there were more expenisve butter I would be the first one buying it. I am going to a gourmet food shop next week and they have all kinds of fancy butter there. hmmmm.

Anna- thanks for that link, I had a look it, that chocolate sounds really interesting.

Bea- trust me all the guilt was gone by time I was done eating the cookies.

Miss Cupcake- wow chesnut cream, I don't think I have ever seen that. Oh was definitely thinking about framing the fancy foil.

Bcinfrance- i highly reccomend it and im sure your kids won't be complaining either.

Lynda- its nice to go shopping at those luxury food stores, even when its only window shopping its still rewarding. Although I can never leave without buying something.

keiko said...

Hi Jenjen - I love Isigny butter too, their creme fraiche is good also (we're lucky to get them quite cheap at supermarkets here). Like J said your cookies look worth every cent, I can almost taste the lovely 'butteriness'... :)

lobstersquad said...

Been there, done that. I can´t stop buying all the silliest most overpriced foodstuffs. But they usually turn out to be very well worth it. You can´t parade them, but they´re way less costly than marc jacobs flats, at least.

Fanny said...

Hi Jen, it's a shame Isigny butter is so expensive in Australia. I keep complaining about living in France, but i think it has its compensations.

These cookies looks delicious!!!