Christmas is looming, which means it’s now time for me to start revisiting a few festive favourites that are always well-received at this time of year. I thought I’d ease myself in gently by baking a batch of shortbread biscuits for the office. They’re nice and easy to make, and experience tells me they’re a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

As much as I like Shortbread in its naked form, especially with a nice cup of tea, I thought that this time I would make this batch a little more special. I decided to decorate them with some flavoured “icing” to add a bit of flavour and colour. Half of them were made with a Lemon and White Chocolate coating and the rest with a Maple Syrup and Pecan frosting. If you don’t have the time then trust me that they’re just as good eaten straight from the oven. The toppings are entirely optional. 

If you’ve not made biscuits before then Shortbread is a great place to start. This recipe only needs three main ingredients: butter, flour and sugar. Indeed you could miss out the vanilla extract if you don’t have any to hand and you’d still get nice biscuits.

My one word of caution is that even though this is a simple recipe it does need patience. You need to make sure the butter is at room temperature when you start. If it’s too cold it won’t mix nicely into the dough. I’d recommend ensuring it’s well beaten with the sugar before adding the flour as well. A light colour with a whipped texture should ensure that the flour is easy to incorporate. Once you have the dough also make sure that you let it chill in the fridge before cutting and baking the biscuits. If you rush this stage they’ll spread out too much in the oven and lose their shape. Oh and don’t overbake them – you want them to have just turned golden as you take them out of the oven.

If you take that little bit of extra time you’re guaranteed to get batch of successful melt-in-the-mouth Shortbread biscuits. Even if you have no previous baking experience.


Shortbread Bites

Light and crumbly shortbread biscuits - great on their own and even better with a little bit of additional flavour and decoration.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Resting Time1 hr
Total Time50 mins
Course: Baking
Cuisine: Biscuits, Sweets
Servings: 24

Ingredients

for the Biscuits

  • 250 g Unsalted Butter softened to room temperature
  • 125 g Caster Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 350 g Plain Flour
  • ½ tsp Salt

for the Lemon & White Chocolate Coating

  • 100 g Good Quality White Chocolate
  • 1 Lemon zest only

for the Maple & Pecan Coating

  • 100 g Icing Sugar sifted
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 25 g Pecan Nuts chopped

Instructions

for the Shortbread Biscuits

  • Put the softened butter into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for a minute or so until smooth. Add in the sugar and then cream together for at least 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla at the end.
  • Sift in the flour and salt then mix at a low speed until combined, bringing it together as a dough. Divide the dough into two equally sized portions. 
  • Lightly dust your worktop with icing sugar then roll each ball of dough out until they're just under 1cm thick and roughly square in shape. Place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper, cover with cling film then put into the fridge for an hour to chill. 
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. 
  • Remove one of the portions of dough from the fridge and cut out your preferred shapes. I like them to be hand-cut "squares" to give them a home-made feel, but if you'd rather use a cookie-cutter or make different shapes that's up to you. 
  • Transfer the cut pieces of dough to the prepared baking sheets, leaving a 1-2cm gap between each piece. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until they are just starting to colour and are firm on the edges, 
  • Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough.
  • When cooled you can either enjoy them as they are (stored in an airtight container) or add a bit more flavour by dipping them in one of my two preferred frostings.

for the Lemon & White Chocolate Coating

  • Break the white chocolate into chunks and put in a heat-proof bowl, over a pan of gently simmering water. As the chocolate starts to melt, add in the zest of the lemon and stir very gently to combine. Allow the flavours to infuse for a few minutes, keeping the temperature at a point where the chocolate is molten but not overheating.
  • Dip the ends or corners of each shortbread biscuit into the melted chocolate, ensuring they're well coated. Shake off the excess then put onto a piece of non-stick baking paper to cool until the chocolate has completely set.

for the Maple & Pecan Coating

  • Mix together the icing sugar and maple syrup to form a spreadable, but thick paste. Depending on your syrup you may need a little more or little less than I did.
  • Spread this over the ends or corners of the shortbread biscuits, then sprinkle over some of the finely chopped pecan nuts. Place onto a piece of non-stick baking paper and allow the icing to harden.

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