Baked Sunday Mornings: Whipped Shortbread

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe is as simple as it gets: Whipped Shortbread. To make the cookies, all you have to do is beat softened butter; add flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt; scoop out the dough; use the tines of a fork to imprint a crosshatch pattern; top with the garnish of your choice; and bake. The recipe specifies chopped pecans as the topping but the recipe headnote encourages experimentation and suggests candied ginger, Skor bars, and flavored salt as alternatives. I decided to top my cookies with crushed Saint Genix praline instead.

I had never heard of Saint Genix praline until a few weeks ago, when my husband and I took a vacation in France over Thanksgiving. After spending some time in Paris and Arbois, we arrived in Lyon on Thanksgiving day and had dinner at a cozy bouchon, Daniel et Denise. I noticed that Saint Genix praline was a component of several items on the dessert menu. I assumed the praline was just some sort of candied almond or hazelnut and was baffled when the man sitting at the table next to us received his tarte tatin aux pralines de Saint Genix and it was covered in something bright red.

I subsequently noticed that every boulangerie in Lyon was selling loaves of brioche with bright pink or red bits of something interspersed throughout, and tarts topped with a bright red filling. Eventually, I learned that the town of Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers -- which is quite close to Lyon -- has given its name to a praline that is basically a candied almond coated with bright pink or red sugar. The praline is incorporated into many desserts and baked goods in the region. I was intrigued and brought some praline back home with me for baking projects.
For this recipe, I put 100 grams of praline into a plastic bag and bashed it with my Matfer nylon rolling pin. I sprinkled the pieces on top of the cookies and pressed them gently into the dough to adhere. I used a #40 scoop to portion out the dough and got 32 cookies from the recipe; it took 20 minutes for them to bake.

The red-colored praline was incredibly festive. And the bit of crunch was the perfect contrast to this cookie's delicate, sandy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. I was worried that the cookies might be bland without any salt, but they had a lovely buttery flavor that was lightly sweet. There is nothing fancy or flashy about this cookie, but it still shines.

Recipe: "Whipped Shortbread" from Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

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Robyn said…
Oh, I'm so intrigued by this praline! I love the bright colour! Perfect for Christmas treats, or Valentine's Day!
Unknown said…
I loved the Saint Genix praline finish. Unfortunately for me, no planned trip to France anytime soon.