I’ve only seen Buddha’s Hand Citrons once before, and weirdly, only at Coles, but I adore them. Not only do they look like some sort of unnatural offspring of a lemon tree and a squid (leading to their affectionate nickname in our household of ‘Cthulu-lemons’ or ‘tentacle-fruit’), they smell rather amazing. It’s a scent I can only describe as perfumed – lemony and floral at the same time.
Buddha’s Hand Citron (and I am now feeling rather concerned about the shape of Buddha’s hands, actually) is all zest and pith, with no juicy centre at all. I’ve been fiddling around with different ways to use it to really bring out the flavour. My mother’s shortbread recipe, which really only has four ingredients and thus tastes basically like butter and sugar (which, I hasten to add, is not a bad thing in any way) seemed like a good place to start.
The result is… well, it’s a rather nice biscuit, but in the end, I found the flavour rather subtle, and too much like lemon rather than anything else. But when I tried testing it scientifically on real scientists, they seemed to like it more, and detect a different flavour. So it’s possible that my tastebuds are just not sophisticated enough for the job. This is entirely plausible, frankly. I’ve often suspected that I was a fake foodie in this regard…
See what you think.
Your shopping list
finely grated zest from one small Buddha’s Hand citron (about 5g)
150 g butter, softened
80 g caster sugar
150 g plain flour
40g rice flour
Now what will you do with it?
Cream the butter and sugar with the zest until light and fluffy.
Mix in the flour and rice flour, and roll into a ball, then press out to one or two centimetres thick. Refrigerate for half an hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 160°C, and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it’s a little under a centimetre thick. Cut out biscuits into shapes of your choice. Smallish circles or hearts are probably a good plan. I do not recommend trying to make hand-shaped Buddha’s Hand biscuits, no matter how good an idea it seems at the time. The dough really wants to spread, and the results will not be pretty.
Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the biscuits are lightly coloured. Cool on trays for a few minutes before putting on wire racks to cool completely.
Serve to hungry scientists, or to people who you have invited around for a spot of political letter-writing. Or keep them yourself, to go with a cup of tea. I believe these biscuits keep quite well, but did not have the opportunity to find out!
These biscuits are egg-free, nut-free and vegetarian. They do contain gluten and eggs, and are not low in fructose because of the wheat flour. I think you could veganise them quite well with a vegan butter substitute, provided it actually tasted like butter – the Butter Me Up vegan butter would be fabulous here, but I don’t think I’d want to go the Nuttelex route. Likewise, this recipe would work just fine with the gluten-free flour mix of your choice.
If you have no Cthulu-fruit to hand, ordinary citrus zest of any kind would work just fine. You might add some spice to make it more fun – orange zest with nutmeg, or lime zest with cardamom, perhaps. And it’s pretty good plain, too, of course.