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Excerpt from “A Hermit Thrush” by Amy Clampitt
Little is certain, other than the tide that
circumscribes us, that still sets its term
to every picnic—today we stayed too long
again, and got our feet wet—
and all attachment may prove at best, perhaps,
a broken, a much-mended thing. Watching
the longest day take cover under
a monk’s-cowl overcast,
with thunder, rain and wind, then waiting,
we drop everything to listen as a
hermit thrush distills its fragmentary,
hesitant, in the end
unbroken music. From what source (beyond us, or
the wells within?) such links perceived arrive—
diminished sequences so uninsistingly
not even human—there’s
hardly a vocabulary left to wonder, uncertain
as we are of so much in this existence, this
botched, cumbersome, much-mended,
not unsatisfactory thing.
Chocolate-dipped pistachio shortbread
Adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book via Local Milk
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pistachios [note: make sure they’re fresh! I bought mine from a bulk bin and regretted it.]
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
- 10 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
- flaked sea salt/fleur de sel (for sprinkling)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450F. Pulse oats in a spice grinder or blender until reduced to a fine powder, about 10 pulses (you should have 1/4 to 1/3 cup oat flour). using stand mixer (or handheld mixer), mix oat flour, all-purpose flour, pistachios, cornstarch, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. Add butter to dry ingredients and continue to mix until dough just forms and pulls away from sides of bowl, 5-10 minutes.
2. Use an 11-inch tart pan and press the dough into the pan in an even layer. Place 2-inch biscuit cutter in centre of dough and cut out centre, then place extracted round alongside springform collar on baking sheet.
3. Bake shortbread for 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Continue to bake until edges turn pale golden, 8 to 12 minutes longer. Remove baking sheet from oven; turn oven off.
4. Use a knife to score surface of shortbread into 16 even wedges, cutting halfway through shortbread. Using wooden skewer, poke about 10 holes in each wedge. Return shortbread to oven and prop door open with handle of wooden spoon, leaving 1-inch gap at top. Allow shortbread to dry in turned off oven until pale golden in center (shortbread should be firm but giving to touch), about 1 hour. Transfer sheet to wire rack; let shortbread cool to room temperature. cut shortbread at scored marks to separate.
5. Melt chocolate in a bain marie. Carefully dip base of each shortbread wedge in chocolate, allowing chocolate to come halfway up cookie. Scrape off excess with your finger and place on parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. [Optional — but fabulous — step: lightly sprinkle these finished cookies with flaked sea salt.] Refrigerate until chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.
We’re all snowed in over here. Hope you’re enjoying your holidays, my darlings.