I just realized, with a little shudder of excitement, that in the next 10 days, I’ll see 40 people I love and don’t get to see often. We’ll traipse from Massachusetts to Vermont to New Hampshire to Maine, stopping and hopping to see family and friends, like we do every year. It’s always fun. It’s always heartwarming. It’s always delicious. And it’s always exhausting.
I probably shouldn’t have counted. I probably should have packed up at the very last minute, without thinking about last year, when I arrived home from the holidays with soaring blood pressure, freakish night sweats, and no appetite – the symptoms of what I thought at the time was a case of too much travel stress, but what I’d later learn was a bit of a kidney crisis.
But I did. I counted. And instead of calming me by organizing the trip in my mind, like I thought it might, the exercise only served to completely separate me from the ability be even remotely productive. Between wrapping and planning and packing and prepping, there has been no room in my frantic little brain for writing. This week, there has not been one ounce of creativity flowing from my fingers. (Speaking of which, what is the correct unit of measurement for creativity?)
Recipes, though – I can always write recipes, and luckily, this time of year, there are always people around to eat sugar in immodest doses. Tomorrow, my suitcase will be packed with these rustic beauties, tender buckwheat shortbreads crusted with turbinado sugar.
Happy holidays, friends. See you in 2011.
Sugared Buckwheat Shortbread (PDF)
Inspired by the buckwheat pancakes at Seattle’s new Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie, these sweet treats get their rustic look and earthy flavor from buckwheat flour.
Time: 15 minutes active time
Makes: 2 dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand-held electric mixer), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and the salt, and mix again to combine. Add the flours one at a time, mixing on low speed between the two until just combined, and scraping the sides of the mixing bowl when necessary.
When all the flour is incorporated, dump the dough onto a board or a clean countertop. Gently knead the dough until it comes together (it should feel sticky). Shape the dough into a log about 12” long. Sprinkle the log with about half the turbinado sugar, coating it on all sides. Wrap the sugared dough in waxed paper, twist the ends to help push the dough into an even, round shape, and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours, or overnight. The dough can also be well wrapped and frozen up to 1 month.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Slice the dough logs into 1/4” thick pieces, and place the cookies about 3/4” apart on the baking sheets. Sprinkle with the remaining turbinado sugar, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and end to end halfway through baking, until the cookies are firm.
Let the cookies cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer them carefully to cooling racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers, up to 1 week.