Friday, 8 May 2009

ORIENTAL EYES


When my colleagues and I were in Bangkok in February, we had the good fortune of spending a few days at The Oriental. Let me warn you about the dangers of spending so much time at The Oriental Bangkok: the staff will pamper you and spoil you with their personal service. They'll greet you by name every morning.  They'll remember when it's your birthday.  The lift attendants remember which floor your room is.  They'll wait on you hand and foot, 24/7 and cater to your every whim.  They'll make you feel like they exist only for you.  At the end of the 3 days, you find yourself telling your boss that you have no wish of leaving your castle. In all fairness, after all that personal attention you've been given, you think that you actually own the place! You don't ever want to wake up from the illusion. Even after months of your return to the reality of everyday life, you'll still be recovering from the overwhelming Thai hospitality.

So here I am, four months afterwards and I still can't get over the hotel's Raspberry Ox-eyes -a simple thumbprint shortbread filled with the most delightful raspberry jam. One bite of it and I was hooked. If I wasn't feeling so terrible shy (ahem!) , I'd have asked for a box of them delivered to my room!

Back home, I searched a long time for the recipe to relive that delectable moment.

Rasberry Ox-Eyes
Adapted from the Thumbprints For Us Big Boys recipe in Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Makes about 60 cookies

100 grams finely ground hazelnuts*
227 grams all-purpose flour
227 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
100 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
About 1 cup raspberry jam, for the filling

*Available at Phoon Huat

Preheat your oven at 180 degrees C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the ground hazelnuts and flour.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, beat, then throw in nut-flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated.

Working with a teaspoon of dough at a time, roll the dough between your palms to form small balls. Lay them apart on the baking sheets. Press down on each ball with your thumb (I used the end of a wooden spoon) to make a small well in the centre of the cookie. Do not press too hard or the cookie will fall apart.

Bake for 15 minutes. Leave the cookies in the baking sheets for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Dust confectioner's sugar over the cookies. Fill indentations of all the cookies with raspberry jam!




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