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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

short and sweet...

This Christmas the lovely ladies at the Irish Food Bloggers Association are hosting a Christmas biscuit recipe swap and I was lucky enough to get the talented Yvonne at Hey Pesto as my recipe swap partner. She kindly shared one of her favorite standby's with me. Her Vanilla Shortbread Biscuits, originally taken from the BBC Good Food Magazine, was her trade and lovely biscuits they are too - worthy of any festive tea-time plate.

The classic shortbread is a very basic recipe consisting of just five ingredients: butter, flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Shortbread is Scottish in origin, where it has long been a traditional holiday food, served on Christmas as well as the New Year's Eve festival of Hogmanay. Although these days we eat shortbread all year round, it's still closely associated with the Christmas season, with Danish Butter Cookies and  Petticoat Tails featuring on many peoples' Christmas shopping 'must haves'.

Home baked shortbread is easy to make, cheaper and far tastier than the bought kind. It stores very well for up to a month in an airtight container, so it's definitely worth adding to your baking repertoire.

This is definitely a biscuit, dainty and delicate, not a robust cookie. It is understated and elegant, rather like the recipe donor herself and for a little biscuit, they certainly deliver a big flavour.

Vanilla Shortbread Biscuits

175g plain flour
50g caster sugar
100g salted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

You need a moderate oven, preheat to about 170C. Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture comes together as a dough. Roll out using icing sugar and cut into required shape(s). Bake for 7-10  mins depending on thickness – you want a light golden brown colour when cooked.

To add to Yvonne's instructions I would recommend starting with the butter at room temperature, the dough comes together much faster. If you roll the dough out between two sheets of cling film and skip the icing sugar (the thickness of a euro coin is about right for these), it cuts down on any clean up time and makes transferring your shapes to the baking sheets much easier. You will get about 24 medium sized biscuits from this quantity.

Enjoy, and remember - shortbread is for life, not just for Christmas.

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