I created these bars for my dear friends at Bake from Scratch. My sister from another mother Jennifer V. Cole was my editor on the “Baking with Vegetables” story for the magazine, so it was extra good fun to write. My niece Eshwari was the inspiration for this recipe. She is of Indian heritage, and I wanted her to see herself in the recipes in create. These masala bars mirror traditional tea cakes in India. The finely grated, fresh carrot adds a surprising yet subtle sweetness to the shortbread cookie dough. The homemade masala of turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger adds a bold pop of flavor. A light dusting of pink peppercorn and Indian Demerara sugar on top brings out the natural sugar of the carrots and the depth of the spices.
Makes about 32 bars
- ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup (50 grams) plus 1-2 teaspoons (4-8 grams) Demerara sugar,* divided
- 1 large egg (50 grams)
- 1⅓ cups (167 grams) all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup (67 grams) cake flour
- ½ cup (75 grams) semolina flour
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) sea salt
- ¾ cup (74 grams) finely grated carrot**
- ¼ cup (25 grams) shredded carrot**
- 1½ teaspoons (3 grams) curry powder
- 1 teaspoon (2 grams) grated fresh ginger
- 2-3 teaspoons (4 to 6 grams) cracked pink peppercorns, divided
- ¾ teaspoon (1.5 grams) turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon (1.5 grams) ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and ¼ cup (50 grams) Demerara sugar at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. (The sugar does not dissolve, and will still look grainy.) Using a rubber scraper, scrape sides of bowl, and beat for 15-20 seconds. Add egg, and beat until combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. Add grated and shredded carrot, and whisk until fully coated.
- In a small bowl, stir together curry powder, ginger, 1 teaspoon (2 grams) pink peppercorns, turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon. Add curry mixture to carrot mixture, stirring until combined.
- Reduce mixer speed to medium. Gradually add carrot mixture to butter mixture, and beat until a dough forms, about 1 minute.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 17x2½-inch rectangle, about ¾ inch thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a lightly floured chef’s knife, slice dough into ½-inch bars. Place bars, cut side down, on prepared pans. Dust with remaining 1-2 teaspoons (4 to 8 grams) Demerara sugar, and sprinkle with remaining 1-2 teaspoons (2-4 grams) peppercorns.
- Bake until bottoms are golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
*Demerara sugar can be found in higher-end grocery stores and specialty shops. Raw or coarsely granulated cane sugar would work well, also. If you like cookies a tich more sweet, add an additional tablespoon of Demerara to the butter when mixing.
**We used the side of a box grater with small holes to grate the carrot finely, and the side with larger holes to shred the carrot.
Note: These bars bake at a lower oven temperature to keep their unique rectangular shape. The lower temperature ensures the butter does not melt too quickly.