I have been saying for many a years now that I would like for someone who really knows how to cook and/or bake to create a bottarga dessert. Well my friends, that day has finally come. Jenn Louis, a very talented and BigBelly flavor-profile-friendly chef, who is based out of Portland, Oregon has done just that. She has always been a huge supporter of Anna Maria Fish Company Cortez bottarga and I mentioned to her in an email that I really wanted someone to create a bottarga dessert and she created a recipe for bottarga shortbread with grapefruit and anise (!!) two of my all time favorite flavors. Hers looked beautiful in the pictures and like “proper” shortbread. I have included the recipe below so that anyone who wants to can attempt to re-create them can. I attempted to do so in my own way, aka, looking at the recipe but not following it exactly in attempt to adjust to my tastes and also to ingredients that I had in my cabinet. I also don’t tend to keep white flour in my apartment.
Whether or not I should be eating gluten at all is a question of sorts, and I still do, but try to do so mostly in fermented form-aka sourdough bread with long fermentation, beer, sprouted grains etc. I had some chickpea flour in my fridge so thought that would work nicely with the bottarga and instead of using candied grapefruit I used loads of grapefruit zest. I didn’t have a full 1/2lb of butter in the apt so in my head decided I was going to cut the recipe in half and already after having mixed everything together, I realized I put in the amount of salt for double the amount of dough I had-oops. Upon eating the finished “cookies” I realized that if they were going to be edible at all-and they HAD to be considering the amount of good butter, pricey bottarga and other ingredients that went into them-they needed to be balanced out. I have a nice collection of honey in my apt., and as I tend to like creamed or very thick honey I took out my only more liquid one to coat them in .
It is a raw, unfiltered and unheated Mangrove honey that I picked up in St. Pete, FL at Mazzaro’s Italian Market in the cheese department which had quite a lovely selection. I just poured some straight from the bottle over the cookies, tossed it around a bit and let them cool completely. For the most part they soaked up the honey so they aren’t too sticky to the touch. I also sprinkled some extra anise on them just for good measure. I have to say they are quite addictively delicious-kind of like bottarga or anything that has umami. There is this flavor to them that you can’t exactly put words to but it just delights and keeps you coming back for more. I think this version would be excellent with ice cream or sorbet or yogurt for that matter (ideally the Siggi’s grapefruit kind), but will be playing with an even more savory and less salty versions in the future. Next up will be one made with olive oil instead of butter, though I’m thinking I will stick with the chickpea flour because, why not.The beauty of something like these and experimental baking is that there is no ideal or standard to live up to, or texture to try to imitate or perfect. I mean they are bottarga cookies people, it is a whole new #amazesaltyballsgame.
Anise, grapefruit and bottarga shortbread
Yield: 50 cookies
1/2 pound unsalted butter, cubed and cold
2/3 c light brown sugar
½ t vanilla
2 c all purpose flour
1 ½ t maldon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1T anise seed
3T candied grapefruit, chopped
½ – ¾ ounce (to taste) mullet roe bottarga, finely grated
coarse raw sugar, for sprinkling
In a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar. When fully creamed add vanilla, 1 ½ t salt, anise seed, candied grapefruit and bottarga. Mix until fully combined, then add flour. Mix until dough comes together. Roll into logs and wrap in parchment. Chill.
Slice into ¼ inch slices, lightly sprinkle with salt and coarse sugar and bake on parchment-lined trays at 350 degree oven until set and slightly golden (apps 12-15 minutes). Store in airtight container.