For our wedding, one of our dear friends gave us a Buddha Hand Citrus tree. This season the tree produced its first fruit! The Buddha Hand Citrus Tree is native to China and this aromatic fruit can be found in a Chinese and Japanese cuisine. It has a thick peel, is predominantly flesh, and has what looks like “fingers” trailing off the end. The “hand” is used as a religious offering in Buddhist temples. According to tradition, since closed hands symbolize to Buddha the act of prayer, it is preferred for the “fingers” of the fruit to be in a position where they resemble a closed rather than open hand. The “rind” has a sweet lemon flavor, similar to Meyer lemons. Since the pith is not bitter like traditional lemons, you can use the entire fruit. It is wonderful in cocktails or as a flavoring agent in sweets.
Being a lover of shortbread I decided to make a Buddha Hand Shortbread. It was quite lovely, buttery, lemony, and overall sublime. I have seen Buddha Hands at Whole Foods this season but of course you can use the zest from a lemon, just reduce the amount you use since they have a more acidic flavor. This particular recipe has you cut the shortbread into rectangles and dust with sugar prior to baking it. Not only does it bake quicker but it also results in a beautiful presentation. The key here is to keep the dough cold when rolling and cutting, so if you need to pause and re-refrigerate make sure you do. Hope you enjoy!
Buddha Hand Shortbread:
6 oz Unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1/2 + 1/8 t salt
4 T zest of Buddha Hand Citrus
1 3/4 c + 3 T flour
2 T sugar for dusting
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Turn to medium low and cream until smooth. Add the 1/2 c of sugar and salt and mix on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of and the bottom of the bowl. Add the citrus zest and mix on low speed for about 30 sec to distribute it evenly.
Add the flour in 2 additions, mixing on low-speed for 15-20 sec after each (or until just combined). Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any flour that may have settled there.
Mound the dough on the work surface and using the heel of your hand, push it together into a 5 in square block. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
Unwrap the dough and place it between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, pound the top of the dough, working from left to right, to begin to flatten it, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. This way the dough doesn’t crack as it is rolled. Roll out into a 9 inch square. Once again, if the dough has softened too much, return it to the fridge to firm.
Using a chef’s knife, score the dough horizontally 3 times to mark four 2 1/4 inch-wide strips. Then score it vertically 5 times at a 1 1/2- inch intervals. You should have a total of 24 pieces. Cut through the markings.
Dust the tops of the shortbread with the 2 T granulated sugar and arrange on the prepared sheet pans, leaving about 3/4 inch between them. Bake until golden brown, 13-15 in convection oven and 17-19 in a standard oven. Set the pans on cooling racks and cool for 5 to 10 minutes prior to transferring them to the rack to cool completely.
These are perfect with your morning coffee or evening tea!