Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Inauguration Anniversary Recipe: First Lady Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies

Life was very sweet for many people during President Obama's inauguration last year; the entire country seemed filled with hope. So in honor of tomorrow's one year anniversary, we're reposting the recipe for First Lady Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies, for those moments when you need to remember that sweetness--because yes, it's been a tough year for lots of folks.  And sometimes, cookies help.

Mrs. Obama's cookies were a big deal at the inauguration, and around the country--so big, in fact, that Washington's Ritz-Carlton Hotel was handing out jars of the cookies to inaugural revelers. Their cookies--8,000 of them--were created by an interesting public-private partnership, which was predictive of Obama administration ideals. Culinary training students from DC Central Kitchen baked the Ritz shortbread cookies, overseen by the Ritz's pastry chef, Jerome Girardot. DCCK teaches culinary skills to at-risk youth and those newly released from prison, so they can be productive members of their communities. The Obama administration has spent the last year encouraging public-private and non-profit partnerships as a way of re-making communities across the country, and the inauguration cookie project is a good example of this.

First Lady Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies


1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon each orange and lemon zest
2 tablespoons amaretto (almond liqueur)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg white
Chopped nuts or dried fruit (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Mix together butter and 1 ½ cups of sugar.
3. Add egg yolks one at a time and beat until smooth.Stir in flour, zest, amaretto and salt, and 4. mix only until everything is incorporated.
4. Spread dough evenly onto a jelly roll pan and brush top of dough with egg white and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
5. Sprinkle with nuts or fruit if desired.
6. Bake until golden brown, approximately 25 minutes.
7. Cool for a short time, then cut while still warm, into bar shapes.

Serve, of course, on your lovely replica Lincoln china, which was used at the Inaugural Luncheon for President Obama.

Above: President and Mrs. Obama at the inauguration parade; the cookie at top of the post is another inauguration treat, a shortbread cookie from Little Rae's Bakery in Seattle. DC Central Kitchen, naturally, is on White House radar; just yesterday, to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Eric Shinseki helped prepare food there. Getty photo of President and Mrs. Obama.