Prepare to Devour Kinako Brown Butter Shortbread
Vancouver, BC has always captivated me. It reminds me so much of San Francisco with its compact size, distinct neighborhoods, cultural diversity, and great eats. Plus, let’s face it — it’s way cleaner than The City By the Bay, and the exchange rate is usually quite favorable to visitors from the States.
I mean, what’s not to like?
Get to know this wonderful city even more in “Vancouver Eats: Signature Recipes from the City’s Best Restaurants” (Figure 1, 2018) by Vancouver food writer Joanne Sasvari, of which I received a review copy.
The cookbook includes 80 recipes that are sure to whet your appetite, from “AnnaLena Chicken Skins” (dipped in chocolate, no less) from AnnaLeana restaurant named for Chef-Owner Michael Robbins’ grandmother, and “Poached Lamb Shoulder with Butternut Squash-Ricotta Gnocchi” from The Dirty Apron Cooking School to “Morel Mushroom and Stinging Nettle Tart with Brie” from Forage and “Vikram’s Bone-In Goat Curry” by celebrated Chef-Restaurateur Vikram Vij’s new My Shanti.
Since I’ve been on a kick baking and cooking with Japanese soy flour, I had to try my hand at “Kinako Brown Butter Shortbread.” The recipe is from Betty Hung, owner and head baker of Beaucoup Bakery, a Parisian-inspired patisserie.
If you haven’t yet discovered the joys of kinako, get yourself to a Japanese market to pick up a bag of the distinctive flour that lends lovely nutty, chestnut-like flavor to anything it touches. The color of golden sand dunes, it can be baked with or simply sprinkled over dishes or desserts to add a distinctive taste.
In this cookie recipe, the kinako gets both mixed into the dough, and gets sprinkled over the cookies after baking for a double punch of goodness.
After you mix the dough in a stand mixer, it will look rather loose. But after a few seconds of sitting, it will stiffen more into a more cohesive dough.
Browned butter mixed into the dough gives this shortbread an even more toasty, buttery flavor. Chopped white chocolate gets sprinkled on top of each cookie before baking, as does a little flaky sea salt to balance the sweetness. As the cookies bake, the white chocolate turns brown and caramelized, nearly the same color as the cookies, lending an almost toffee-like note.
The delicate cookies end up crisp and crumbly with a melt-in-your-mouth quality. With a soothing cup of green or barley tea, they make for the perfect Zen moment.
Kinako Brown Butter Shortbread
(Makes 20 to 24 cookies)
1 1/3 cups (2 2/3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup kinako, plus extra for dusting
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
1/4 cup chopped white chocolate (such as Valrhona Ivoire 35%)
1 tablespoon Japanese toasted brown rice, puffed rice or crispy rice (optional)
Put butter in a large saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat, until light brown. (The butter will foam and boil up in the process; keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over and burn.) Pour into a heatproof container and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine brown sugar and confectioners’ sugar, then scrape in vanilla seeds. Cream together on medium speed for 5 minutes.
Add kinako, flour, and fine sea salt. Mix on low speed, scraping bowl as necessary, until dough forms.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop 1 1/2-inch-diameter balls, place them on the baking sheet and flatten slightly with your hand. Sprinkle cookies with flaky sea salt, chopped white chocolate and toasted (or puffed or crispy) rice (if using). Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate tray and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Set aside to cool, then dust with kinako.
From “Vancouver Eats” by Joanne Sasvari
More Kinako Recipes to Try: Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes
And: Kinako Ice Cream