Happy 2017! I am delighted to kick off a brand new year with these bewitching Italian Panettone Shortbread Cookies! The texture is pure shortbread, melt-in-your-mouth tender, but with a burst of the traditional flavors of panettone, the Artist’s favorite holiday Italian bread. They are finished off with a bright citrus/white chocolate glaze. Beware, you won’t stop at just one!
If you have ever been to Italy or been lucky enough to have an authentic Italian bakery in your neighborhood, you know that there is an elusive, captivating aroma in many of their baked goods. It is like vanilla on steroids, with hints of citrus fruits. Until recently I thought I was going to have to buy a ticket and fly all the way across the pond to find the source of this elixir.
Enter King Arthur Flour, one of my favorite companies. If you are a baker, love employee-owned companies, treasure tradition and love to support American businesses, King Arthur is what you’ve been looking for!
Along with some of the best flours in the country, they also sell kitchen tools and equipment, luscious ingredients, bulk items, and some hard to find items. One of those is a flavoring called Fiori di Sicilia, the same thing that Italians use to scent their panettone and pandoro. The closest description I can come up with is a cross between vanilla and citrus with floral overtones. A bit like the allure of rose water in Middle Eastern recipes.
When you combine Fiori di Sicilia and King Arthur’s European Candied Mixed Peel (a blend of lemon, orange, and citron) you have the quintessential panettone power duo. I used both of these to create the Panettone Bread in our book, The Gluten-Free Bread Machine Cookbook, not surprisingly one of The Artist’s favorite breads. And today I took them in a different direction.
I have made a lovely panettone biscotti that uses ground almonds for a luscious nutty bite, but this time I wanted to try it in a shortbread cookie. I love the slightly sandy texture and not too sweet flavor of shortbread – especially when it is made with European butter like my personal favorite, Kerrygold!
The final component of these cookies is a bright citrus/white chocolate glaze that adds just the right amount of sweetness and pop of flavor making them the perfect finish to any meal, treats for parties, and snacks any time of the day. The cookies are delicious on their own, but this glaze makes them truly special.
I hope you enjoy this first Chocolate Monday of 2017 – these Italian Panettone Shortbread Cookies are a great way to begin the new year!
Happy New Year!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
You definitely need a really heavy-duty mixer to mix this cookie dough – it is heavy and could pose trouble for lighter mixers. If you prefer you can mix the fruits in by hand.
Note: The candied peels are a seasonal product so order while they are still available and put them in the pantry to make these cookies throughout the year.
Gluten-free flour blends may need a bit more water than regular flour due to their hygroscopic properties. Add enough to make a dough that cleans the sides of the bowl and is a bit creamy, but not too much or you may drastically change the texture.
- 1-1/2 cups (roughly 240g) “European Candied Mixed Peel” from King Arthur Flour or mixed candied lemon, orange, and citron fruit peels
- 2-1/4 cups (288g) cornstarch
- 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend + 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
- 1-1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened (if using salted butter, omit salt)
- 1 cup (125g) powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup water, plus more if needed
- 1/4 tsp Fiori di Sicilia (from King Arthur Flour)
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Citrus-White Chocolate Glaze
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 (187g) cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp citrus juice, such as lemon, orange, lime, or a combination
- Water, if needed
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment sheets or Silpats. Beside the stove, set wire cooling racks over sheets of waxed paper or parchment (this is where you will glaze the cookies). Chop the candied peel finely with a sharp knife. Set aside.
- Prepare the Cookie Dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, flour, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and lightened. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with the water, mixing until smooth after each addition. Then add the flavorings and chopped fruits. Add more water if needed - you are looking for a heavy dough that cleans the sides of the bowl as it mixes with no dry ingredients left at the bottom of the bowl.
- Using a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop, form 2 tbsp dough balls (about the size of a walnut) and place about 1-1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using the bottom of a wet glass, flatten each ball into a disk about 1/4-inch thick. Dip the bottom of the glass in water between pressing each cookie to help the dough release easily from the glass.
- Bake the Cookies: Working with 1 sheet at a time, bake the cookies for about 12 to 15 minutes, spinning the sheet halfway through baking. The cookies will be lightly golden at the bottom and edges. Transfer to the cooling racks with the parchment under them.
- Make the Glaze: In a 1-quart microwave-safe bowl, place the butter and white chocolate. Cook in bursts of 15 seconds, stirring after each heating, until the chocolate is melted. Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. Add the citrus juice and whisk together until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if too thin, more juice if too thick. Transfer to a plastic bag, pressing it into one corner. Twist the top of the bag closed, and holding the glaze-filled corner facing up, snip off a tiny bit of the corner of the bag to make a very small hole. Try drizzling a little of the glaze on a plate or parchment, and if needed cut the hole a little bigger.
- Drizzle over the tops of the cookies while they are still warm. If needed you can scrape whatever glaze drops onto the paper below back into the bowl, heat for about 5 seconds in the microwave and continue glazing.
- MAKE AHEAD: Divide the dough into two or three pieces, placing each on a sheet of parchment paper. Using the paper to help you, form into a log. Wrap with the parchment and twist the ends closed. Repeat with remaining dough. Write baking directions on the outside of parchment and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then place in the freezer to firm up, for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. I like to flatten out the edges of the logs to make rectangular-shaped cookies. It adds a nice variety to the shapes on your holiday platter. Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month. These make wonderful hostess gifts!!
- Yield: 4 to 6 dozen cookies
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