I do love shortbread, I think it’s mainly because I grew up with it, we would visit my Gran’s house and get shortbread for a snack but more so every New Year as this is the tradition in Scotland.
Through the ‘Taste of Scotland’ scheme that promotes authentic and innovative Scottish cooking, Scottish cuisine has enjoying a renaissance and now many believe that the best food in Britain is to be found north of the Border. The story of shortbread begins with the medieval “biscuit bread”. Any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk: the word “biscuit” means “twice cooked”. Gradually the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.
Shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, shortbread was a special treat reserved just for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. In Shetland it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. The custom of eating shortbread at New Year has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule Cakes which symbolised the sun. In Scotland it is still traditionally offered to “first footers” at New Year.
Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle divided into segments (“Petticoat Tails”); individual round biscuits (“Shortbread Rounds”), or a thick rectangular slab cut into “fingers.” However, these days as we see some amazing cookie cutter shapes, they can be cut into whatever you like. As it is the Winter Season here just now, I decided to go for some lovely Snowflake Designs.
From memory when my Gran’s used to make Shortbread, the rule of thumb is always 3,2,1, 3 parts Flour to 2 parts Butter to 1 part sugar. Stick with this and you can’t go wrong.
Makes about 10-12 Shortbreads
115g Plain Flour
55g Rice Flour
55g Sugar (Caster or Icing) – (Extra Sugar to finish)
Pre heat your oven to 150 deg C Fan.
In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, sift in the flours.
Mix until it resembles bread crumbs, then tip onto a floured surface and work by hand to bring the dough together.
Gently roll out to about 1/2 inch thickness, if using a cutter, cut into your designs and lay onto a greaseproof baking tray. If creating petticoats, press into a round baking tin, or fingers, press into a rectangle baking tin. Now refrigerate for about 20 minutes, this helps the biscuits to stop spreading when being baked. Prick the shortbread with a fork and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven and while still hot sprinkle with some sugar to finish. Allow to cool.
For a while now I have been trying to perfect my Empire Recipe, and finally I have found a ratio of ingredients and cooking times that work perfectly. (please bare in mind that not all ovens are the same, so you timings may vary slightly). The traditional Scottish way is to decorate with a Jube Jube (they are like big jelly tots), although most people tend to put a cherry on top. To be honest it’s whatever you like, there is no right or wrong. I have even experimented with alternative decorated toppings.
I’m not a fan of marshmallows but I was cleaning out my kitchen drawers and came across a bag (not sure why they were in there…lol!), they had to be used up, so Rocky Road was the only thing I could think of where I had all the other ingredients and it was quick and easy to put together. My partner was absolutely delighted, he has a very sweet tooth.
100g milk chocolate chips – melted
30g butter – melted
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
40g mini marshmallows
80g Crunchy Weetabix bran (you can of course use digestive biscuits or other biscuits of your choosing)
Put the crunchy bran or biscuits into a food bag and using a rolling pin, crush till you have a good mix of crumbs and smaller pieces.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwaveable bowl for about 50 secs at power 900w. Mix in the crunchy bran biscuits, marshmallows and maple syrup until coated.
Pour into a small tin or a muffin tin and press down. Chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.
These need to be kept in the fridge after as they will melt at room temperature, allow to sit at room temperature for about 1 minute before eating. These will keep for about 1 week in an airtight container.
I have been dying to try this stain glass design for a while, so why not just in time for Christmas. Very simple to create too.
Makes about 16 biscuits
175g Plain Flour
2 tsps ginger, ground
Zest 2 oranges
100g butter, chunks
50g golden caster sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp oil for greaseproof paper. (to prevent sweets from sticking)
Heat oven to 160C fan. Grease 2 large non-stick baking sheets with oil.
Whizz the flour, ginger, zest and butter with 1⁄2 tsp salt to fine crumbs in a food processor. Pulse in the sugar and milk, then turn out and knead briefly on a floured surface until smooth. Wrap in cling film, then chill for about 30 mins.
Flour the work surface again, then roll out the dough to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use cutters to shape. (see below for centres)
Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown
Transfer to a rack to cool.
Decorate any way you like.
For Glass like Baubles:-
12 fruit flavoured boiled sweets
Place 1 sweet or ½ of sweet into the centre of the biscuits, sweets should be level with the biscuit once melted. (Should melt in the oven ok.) Allow to fully cool and harden before transferring to a rack. – Sprinkle icing if you wish or decorate.
Just be aware that if eating these the candy is very hard. (Watch your teeth)
If using for decoration on your tree, pierce a hole at the top of the cookies and thread some ribbon through and tie.
Keen to get a good biscuit, you can’t go wrong with these flavours. So yummy!
Makes about 15 biscuits
125g Butter – unsalted
175g Golden Caster Sugar
225g Plain Flour
2 tsp baking powder
75g Chocolate 70% – chopped small
Zest of 2 oranges
1-2 tbsp orange juice
Start by beating the butter and sugar together in mixer until they’re combined.
Then sift the flour and baking powder straight into the mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients, and work the mixture together until you get a fairly stiff paste.
Now flour a working surface and a rolling pin and roll the paste out to about 1cm thick. Then, using a cutter (5cm), cut out the biscuits and place them on the baking sheets and bake one sheet at a time near the centre of the oven. Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are a nice golden colour.
Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling tray, and finally sprinkle with a dusting of golden caster sugar or icing sugar or decorate – whichever.
I first saw this recipe on Pumpernickelandrye, they looked far too good not to give them a try…………………oh and how I was right, they were delicious, light and very moreish. A very simple recipe that packs flavour and satisfaction. Perfect with a cuppa. (or as my boyfriend says ‘perfect on their own too!’ lol!)
They are more like a biscuit or cookie with a little crunch.
80g Granulated Sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
200g shredded coconut
3 egg whites
1 tsp almond extract
100g chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 160 deg.
In a bowl mix sugar, flour and salt together then add the coconut.
In a separate bowl whisk together the egg whites and almond extract until foamy but not too stiff.
Pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture and combine until moist.
Lay parchment paper onto a baking sheet and take 1 heaped tbsp of the mixture and place onto sheet.
Bake in oven for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate drops in a microwave dish for about 30 seconds intervals until melted.
Once macaroons have baked and cooled completely, dip each one into the chocolate to cover base and set aside. I lay back on tray upside down.
Place the macaroons in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to allow to chocolate to harden. Once hardened, remove and you can then drizzle more chocolate over the top of the bakes (if you have any left, I only had enough for 2……maybe 150g chocolate drops would be enough to do this.) Allow to harden in fridge.
I just love my Empire Biscuits, I do have to say they are rather tasty. Having the afternoon to myself I fancied getting my creativity on this afternoon and trying some new techniques. I thoroughly enjoyed my creating and so glad they turned out…..I don’t have the steadiest of hands…lol. Although my love hearts could do with more practise…lol!
I used 1 spoonful of the icing in each tub and added food colouring.
I used a skewer that I had in my kitchen drawer, but anything with a pen like nib would do.
Once you have put your white icing onto your biscuit you then choose your design colours.
I started off with roses. Put the nib of the skewer into the red colouring and place a small dot onto the icing and start to rock and circle the skewer to make your design. Clean nib then dip into the yellow and add a dot in the middle. Clean nib then dip into the green and draw small leaf shapes at the bottom. Finish design with small dots of colour randomly.
I done the same thing but on a bigger scale for me single rose.
Then using each colour draw lines on your biscuit.
Then drag the tip of your skewer firstly down the way then up the way to create the design.
A wee afternoon treat to myself, I love Amaretto and I love coffee, no better way than to combine them. I had some Amaretto flavoured coffee left over so decided to try that instead of the liqueur in the biscuits (as I had none) and it so worked.
Makes 12 biscuits
200g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp amaretto coffee, my fav from the Edinburgh Tea & coffee Company
1 tbsp orange flavouring
50g cocoa powder
Firstly make the amaretto coffee in a cafetiere.
Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder ,baking powder and butter together. Then add in the coffee and orange flavouring, mix together until you get a dough like consistency.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for about an hour just enough so you can roll out.
Remove from fridge and roll out to approx 1cm thick, place some greaseproof paper or parchmont paper on a baking tray.
Using a cutter, cut out the biscuits and place onto baking sheet. Bake for approx 15 mins at 200 deg.
Remove and place on a wire rack to cool and crisp up. Sprinkle some icing sugar over and serve.
I love to dunk mine into fresh coffee……oh so yummy!
Valentines Day was slowly arriving and I wanted to treat my other half with something different but something I know he would enjoy…his favourite flavours for desserts are peanut butter, chocolate and toffee, so I decided to make some cheesecakes combining all the flavours. It was absolutely delicious!
Makes 12 Mini Cheesecakes
180g Cream cheese
100ml double cream
1 tablespoon of peanut butter smooth
60g Icing Sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
13 Digestive Biscuits
50ml butter melted
Toffee Sauce of your choice – loads of squeezes
12 chocolate buttons or shapes of your choice
Melt butter in a pan
Put digestive biscuits into a food processor and blitz, add in melted butter and mix
Put some muffin cases into a muffin tin and scoop digestive mix about 2 tbsp into cases and press down.
Refrigerate for about 20-30 mins
Meanwhile mix cream cheese, peanut butter and icing sugar together
In a separate bowl mix double cream and vanilla until you get soft peaks
Fold in cream cheese and cream mix together
Spoon mixture into muffin cases and top with toffee sauce and a chocolate button.
Having my breakfast this morning and sitting looking at the very wet and windy weather through the window, my thoughts were of feeling cosy and warm this afternoon, so I decided I wanted a nice bit of cake to go with my fresh warm coffee. Looking in my cupboards I saw Toffee Sauce and Chocolate and came up with this wee bit of delightful heaven. Cake, Coffee and a Comfy Couch on a rainy day, canny beat it!
Makes 15 squares
110g unsalted butter
105g Soft Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
130g All purpose Flour
150g chocolate (dark or milk)
30g Pecans – chopped
1. Preheat oven to 180 deg.
2. Line a 20cm baking tin with foil and grease.
3. Mix with an electric mixer the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth
4. Then mix in the flour and salt and mix until combined but not too stiff.
5. Pour mixture into the baking tin and with a spatula evenly spread out.
6. Place on middle shelf in oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
7. Meanwhile, chop up chocolate into small bits, and chop pecans too.
8. Once base is ready, pour chocolate bits evenly over and put back into oven for 1-2 mins until melted, remove and spread evenly.
9. Top with the pecans and allow to cool. Once cool put into fridge to set chocolate (approx 1 hour)
10. Cut into small squares and serve. YUMMY!
I had some toffee sauce and decided to drizzle over squares which added extra flavour.