The zest is generally the most flavorful part of any citrus fruit because it contains so many essential oils. Access to fresh zest is one of the reasons that so many recipes insist on fresh citrus, as opposed to prepacked juice, when you really want to bring a strong citrus element into a recipe. Buddha’s hand is an unusual citrus fruit in that it really doesn’t have any pulp, so using juice isn’t even an option. It has lots of aromatic zest that is easy to use when you want to make some goodies that have a slightly more interesting flavor than your average lemon.
This Buddha’s Hand shortbread really showcases the wonderful flavor of this particular citrus. The buttery Scottish-style shortbread has a nice balance of butter and sweetness to it, providing an almost blank canvas for the citrus. It’s a delicious combination and a wonderful little variation on a classic shorbtread recipes. The zest from a Buddha’s hand can be removed using a regular zester, though you might want to cut the “fingers” off of the citrus before zesting them to give yourself easier access to all sides of the citrus.
I recommend scoring the shortbread before baking to make it easier to slice, but you can also score it with a sharp knife immediately after it comes out of the oven. The shortbread will become crumbly and tender when it cools, so it can be very difficult to get clean slices if you wait to cut into it. The shortbread, once cooled, will keep very well in an airtight container for several days – and you’ll smell both the citrus and the butter every time you open it to pull out a piece!
Buddha’s Hand Shortbread
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Buddha’s hand zest
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
Preheat oven to 350F.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and Buddha’s hand zest. Pulse a few times to blend.
Cut butter into large chunks and add to food processor. Whiz for about 1 minute, until dough has a very sandy and starts to clump together. Pour into a 9-inch square pan and spread into an even layer. Use a flat-bottomed glass to press down the dough firmly, creating as smooth a surface as possible.
Score dough lightly with a sharp knife, marking 4 rows by 8 rows of shortbread pieces. Dock the dough with a fork, if desired.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until shortbread is lightly browned all over.
While the shortbread is still hot and still in the pan, use a sharp knife or a bench scraper to cut shortbread all the way through along the lines you scored prior to baking. Allow shortbread to cool completely in the pan once it has been cut.
When cooled, shortbread pieces should break apart very easily. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 32 pieces.