This festive recipe by Cecile Boissonneau makes 40 biscuits, 0.5 to 1cm in thickness and 5 to 6 cm in diameter. The dough can be frozen, so it is fantastic for batch cooking and can be prepared well before Christmas.
150g Brixton Windmill wholemeal flour
210g Italian 00 flour
160g caster sugar
70g ground almonds
1/4 tsp baking powder
1tsp flaky sea salt
Zest of one orange
1tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cardamon
250g cold unsalted butter
1 beaten egg
1 tbsp milk
The dough can easily be made by hand. However, I was a bit lazy and used my Kenwood machine instead. I did grind the cardamon to enhance its flavour though!
- Sift the flours, baking powder, sugar and spices and add them to the bowl of a food mixer. Cut the butter roughly into 2 cm cubes.
- Place the ground almonds, butter, salt and zest in the bowl. Mix everything with the beater attachment until it reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs.
- Pour in the egg and milk and continue to beat until the dough comes together and stop straight away.
- Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in cling film. Let it rest in the fridge for at least one hour.
- After one hour, take the dough out and pre heat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan). Line two baking trays with baking parchment or silicon mats and set aside.
- Cut the dough in half and start to spread this half out between two sheets of cling film until it is between 0.5 and 1cm thick (depending on how thick you like your cookies). Keep the other half in the fridge. I do not use flour when working with the dough. I know it is not environmentally friendly, but in doing so, I avoid a messy kitchen and I keep the buttery taste of my shortbreads.
- Choose different cookie cutters and start to cut out biscuits. Place them on the trays, 1 cm apart. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more shapes. Try to work as quickly as possible, as it is easier to work with a malleable but relatively cold dough. Again, I avoid using flour when shaping the biscuits. I only use my finger to push the dough out of the cutter. If it sticks, either dip your cutter in some flour before cutting the biscuits or put the dough back into the fridge until it is a bit more rigid.
- Bake for 18 minutes, rotating the trays after 10 min. Transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool. Repeat steps 5-8 with the other half of dough or put it in the freezer for later use.
You could eat your biscuits plain. They are flavoursome enough with the cardamon and buttery texture. However, for mine I wanted to add a festive touch by adding colours and sparkles, using natural ingredients. Also, cardamon pairs nicely with white chocolate.
160 g white chocolate drops
2 tsp of coconut oil
Dried colourful edible flowers
3 crushed freeze-dried strawberries
- Melt half the chocolate in the microwave (around 600 watts), checking every 30 seconds. When ready , add the coconut oil and mix together. I like adding oil so it keeps the chocolate runny a bit longer and shiny (to a certain degree) without having to temper it.
- Quickly pour the melted mix into a closed piping bag. To do this, I usually place the unfilled and closed piping bag into a tall drinking glass and fold the top down around the top of the glass.
- When the bag is half filled, cut off the tip and start icing quickly. The runnier the chocolate the easier it is to ice. Outlining the biscuits first might ensure neater edges. To cover the rest I often pipe a certain amount of chocolate in the middle of each shortbread and spread it with a tiny spoon to the outline. You can draw different patterns instead, using the piping bag.
- When your piping bag is empty and before the chocolate sets, sprinkle some flowers and strawberries on top. They will not affect the taste of the biscuits – they are purely decorative.