TASTE BUDS

Currants add modest level of flavor to cakes, cookies

Posted Oct. 18, 2011, at 1:14 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 18, 2011, at 8:12 p.m.

Dried currants get short shrift these days. A couple hundred years ago they showed up in baked goods at the rate that chocolate chips show up today. Lovely little tea breads and cakes and cookie recipes called for them all during the 1800s and into the 1900s, too.

Currants are actually a small raisin, but unlike the larger, deep, fruity, dark raisins or yellow sultanas that yell “RAISIN,” currants add a modest level of flavor to a recipe, and keep a plain cake or cookie bar from being boring and bland.

Personally, I adore shortbread. I prefer buttery sweetness over sugary sweetness, and I like the crunchy texture of shortbread better than the fluffy, floury baked goods. I stumbled on this recipe goodness-knows-where now, and copied it, then stuffed it into my folder of recipes to try someday.

If you have currants that you do not use often, check to make sure they are soft and glossy. If not, put them in a sieve, run them under the warm water tap for a few seconds, and allow to drain while you proceed. Shake off any excess moisture before you add them to the dough.

This is classic tea-time fare or a perfect accompaniment to a fruity sherbet or sorbet dessert.

Currant Ginger Shortbread

Yields about 36 cookies

1 stick butter

¼ cup sugar

1 cup flour

⅓ cup currants

1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger

Cut the butter in small pieces and cream it together with the sugar until it is fluffy.

Add flour, sugar, currants and ginger, and beat together for a couple minutes. Flatten ball of dough and chill it for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough out into a rectangle about a quarter-inch thick. Cut them into small rectangles 1to 2 inches long and an inch wide, or whatever size you desire, and arrange on the parchment paper so that they do not touch. Bake for 12-15 minutes, and remove to a rack to cool before putting them in a tin.

Looking for … Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Cookies. Reader Ed Denburgh emailed asking if I had a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I don’t. Maybe one of you does and if so, would you share?

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848, email sandyoliver47@gmail.com. For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

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