This recipe makes approximately 30 ‘digestive biscuit’ size single biscuits. This makes 15 filled biscuits.
‘Ambassador, with these shortbread you are really spoiling us….’
So I decided to start my blog where my love affair with baking once began. Shortbread. Buttery, crumbly and irresistible.
I spent some time living in Scotland and was always delighted to run baking groups with ladies who showed me the true art of shortbread. Not to work the dough too much, to bake it a at a low temperature so it kept it’s delicate pale primrose colour and most of all, to share it.
This is a gentle variation on shortbread. I think the hazelnuts emphasise the melting crumb and buttery flavour. The chocolate is a touch of luxury that can be left out….but why leave out a touch of luxury? Frangelico is a delicious liqueur, worth buying as the bottle lasts a long time. Its presence in the ganache really compliments the toasted hazelnuts in the biscuit.
This entry is a bit low on instructive images, but bear with me, I plan to have lots and lots of helpful images in posts to come.
I hope you enjoy this first recipe…and that you will be tempted to come back!
350 grams plain flour
Pinch of salt
225 grams unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
110 grams caster sugar
75 grams chopped roasted hazelnuts (you can buy them prepared this way or do it yourself)
Making the dough
1- Measure the flour into a bowl and mix in the salt.
2- Cut the butter into cubes. It is easiest to do this in the flour so that the flour prevents the butter cubes from sticking together.
3- Use the knife to continue cutting the butter into small pieces. Then use your finger to break the butter down further with the flour. Similar to making pastry, you are trying to get a fully incorporated mix with no lumps of butter. This is achieved by rubbing your fingers and thumbs together, mixing the flour with the butter. The end product will look like damp sand or breadcrumbs. (You can also whizz it all up in a food processor if you prefer!).
4- Stir in the sugar, vanilla extract and hazelnuts until well mixed.
5- Use your hands to crush together the mix to form a dough. You may need a couple of tablespoons of cold water to help with this.
6 – Mix it as little as possible – work quickly as you do not want to butter to melt or the gluten to develop in the flour. (The opposite of kneading bread)
7- Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Now is a good time to make the chocolate ganache filling if you plan to sandwich them together.
Shaping and baking the dough
1- Preheat oven to 170 ºC/Gas Mark 3/ 340 ºF.
2- Roll out the dough between two pieces of greaseproof paper to about 1 cm thick. (You can use a rolling pin, glass or glass bottle for this job!). It is easiest to do this between parchment for a few reasons. It means that you don’t have to add lots of additional flour to the dough and it also makes it a less messy job. However, you can of course roll it out on a floured surface.
3- Take off the top piece of greaseproof paper and cut out biscuits using cutters, glass or egg cup, depending on what size and shape you like.
4- Pull away the dough from between the cut out shapes and use a knife to transfer the biscuits to an unlined, ungreased baking tray. Reroll the remaining dough again and continue to cut out shapes.
5- Bake for 8 – 12 minutes depending on the size of the biscuits. They should have a matt finish, be slightly firmer and slightly darker around the edges when baked.
6- Leave to cool for 4 – 5 minutes as they still will be very soft out of the oven. Use a knife to lift onto a plate or cooling rack to cool.
They can be eaten just like this or filled and enjoyed as below.
Chocolate ganache Ingredients
250 grams dark chocolate (between 60 and 80% cocoa solids depending on your preference)
1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1 -2 tablespoons frangelico, dark rum or cherry brandy (optional)
25 grams chopped roasted hazelnuts (optional)
Making the ganache
1- Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heat proof bowl.
2- Heat the cream and brown sugar (if using) in a saucepan until bubbling around the edges.
3- Pour over the chocolate, submerging all the chocolate in the cream.
4- Leave to sit for 4- 5 minutes.
5- Stir the mixture, starting in a small circle in the centre. Keep stirring until you can see a small area of dark glossy mix, then gradually stir in bigger and bigger circles until it is all smooth.
6- Add the cinnamon and liqueur if using.
7- Allow to cool down for 15 – 20 before placing in the fridge for 30 – 40 minutes to cool down and firm up.
8- Pipe (using a star shaped nozzle) or use a knife to spread the mix on the underside of a cooled biscuit, and then sandwich another biscuit on top.
Dip the edges of the biscuit in the chopped nuts for extra decoration if you like.
The unfilled biscuits store well in an airtight container for a couple of weeks. When filled they keep for about a week in a cool sealed container.