These shortbread cookies smell like the holidays, but they’re great all year round. Makes around 40 cookies. They highlight one of our favorite spices, cloves! Cloves are the flower bud of the tree. They are at their peak aroma when the tip of the buds is a beautiful pink; the day before they burst open. The round ‘heads’ of those cloves are a light beige when dried. After that, if left on the tree, they open and quickly lose their aroma; those are the cloves without a ‘head.’ Before that the buds are green, not as fragrant and they can be recognized as the dry cloves with a dark head.
Great cloves usually come from equatorial islands like Indonesia or Zanzibar. As a rule, Indian cloves are of poor quality. Traders pay rock bottom prices to farmers who put a minimum effort into production, sorting etc. so they have little incentive (to grow anything great). In the case of Épices de Cru, however, these Indian cloves are quite the exception! They pay top dollar for amazing cloves sourced from Najeeb and Shihab, two childhood friends who live in a village of Kerala in southeastern India. India is not known as a clove terroir, but these two young men have created an exceptional spice thanks to the moist, high-elevation soil of eastern Kerala. In addition, they take painstaking efforts in order to ensure premium quality: hand picking the good cloves and leaving the others to ripen, which means repeatedly climbing the trees over the course of a few weeks. Their trees can produce a few hundred kilos a year and we’re so happy to carry a product that is not only phenomenal, but one we know is honored with fair compensation for the farmers.
The flavor is powerful, and probably one of the most useful spices. One or two cloves in most dishes add a wonderful aroma: most spice blends that incorporate it have only 2 to 5 percent of cloves in them. Two cloves stuck in an onion for chicken broth or ground up with herbs and garlic for a roast or added to soups and stews will give a wonderfully almost indiscernible aroma. This is where buying the best is inexpensive; even if you use one or two cloves a day it will takes months to go through a can.
Recipe and cookie photo courtesy of our friends at Épices de Cru
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ cup flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1½ tsp cinnamon, ground
- ¼ tsp clove, ground
- 1 cup cold butter, cubed
- Zest of one small orange
- Hazelnuts for garnish (opt.)
- Roast hazelnuts in the oven, at 350°F, for around 5 minutes.
- Let cool a few minutes, then peel the hazelnuts with your hands or by rubbing them together in a dishrag.
- Place hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor. Grind into a powder.
- Add flour, salt, and spices and pulse to mix well.
- Add butter and orange zest and stir blend until it forms into a dough.
- Separate dough in half. Form into 2 cylinders around 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap cylinders in a parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 350 °F. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
- Remove dough from fridge and slice cookies ¼ inch thick. Lay cookies on the tray and decorate with hazelnuts if desired.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes.