Shortbread Biscuits

Buttery and crisp shortbread biscuits. Delicious dunked into caramel and melted chocolate or crumbled over ice cream. Made with only three ingredients, these scrumptious biscuits will just melt-in-your-mouth! 

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Homemade shortbread is a Christmas necessity. I look forward to Christmastime all year round, it’s my favourite time of the year because you can go overboard decorating the Christmas tree and entire house, spend quality time catching up with family and importantly, eat as many biscuits, chocolate, cheese, crackers, canapés and sweets as you want. Just thinking about all that food is making me quite hungry…

The best part of Christmas is definitely the several boxes of shortbread and chocolate-coated biscuits we get to eat our way through and enjoy. I’ll admit it, I have no self-control when it comes to shortbread biscuits or any kind of biscuit for that matter. My maternal grandma is half Scottish and her dad’s side of the family came from Dunblane, I’m sure my love of making (and eating!) shortbread is highly influenced by my Scottish roots.

Shortbread for me is something truly magical. It requires only three ingredients and those few ingredients are quite easily assessable, meaning that if you suddenly remembered you’ve forgotten to get a present for someone (we’ve all been there) or plans change at the last-minute and you have unexpected guests, don’t panic as you can whip up a batch of these shortbread biscuits in no time at all with little notice and you won’t need to make a mad rush to the supermarket either!

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These shortbread biscuits can be packaged up in bags or biscuit tins and given away to your family members and friends as an edible gift. Saying that, you probably won’t want to give any of these away, you’re likely to want to hide these somewhere only you know about!

Shortbread biscuits are a great way of getting kids involved with baking. They can prepare the dough by hand, then roll out it and stamp out different shaped biscuits with cutters. I picked a star-shaped cutter for this batch of shortbread biscuits because I love the way they look and you can always buy shortbread rounds, I like that these star-shaped ones are just a little bit different and they have an extra special festive touch.

Bake these shortbread biscuits and as you wait for them to cool, pop the kettle on and grab a cuppa. Decorate each biscuit with a light dusting of icing sugar. Your ticket to buttery, crumbly shortbread heaven is right here with this recipe.

(Makes 20-30)

Ingredients:

250g unsalted butter, softened

120g icing sugar

450g plain flour

Method:

  1. Cream the softened butter for a minute or two until smooth. Sift over the icing sugar and flour. Using your fingertips, combine the ingredients until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Press the mixture together until a soft, yet slightly crumbly dough forms.
  2. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, wrap each piece of dough in clingfilm. Allow the dough to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days). See recipe notes below for instructions on chilling longer than 2 hours.
  3. Roll each piece of dough out in between two pieces of parchment paper until it’s approx. 5mm/0.5cm thick. Using your favourite biscuit/cookie cutters, cut out shapes from the dough and transfer to lined baking trays.
  4. Spread biscuits out onto lined baking trays, bake at 160°C / 140 Fan for 30 minutes or until dry and still pale in colour. Once baked, leave to cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes, then carefully transport to a wire rack and allow the biscuits to cool completely to room temperature.
  5. Prior to serving dust each biscuit with caster or icing sugar. Shortbread will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Recipe Notes:

  • You don’t need to cream the butter and sugar together – doing this will incorporate too much air into the biscuits.
  • Dough will be very crumbly, this is traditional with shortbread. If the dough is too crumbly, add 1-2 tablespoons of ice-cold water to the mixture.
  • You can make the shortbread dough up to 2 days prior to baking. Before you want to bake the biscuits, take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to come back up to room temperature before attempting to roll it out. I leave dough that has been chilling overnight out on the kitchen counter for about an hour to allow it to soften.
  • This recipe yields about 20-30 biscuits and I made just over 30. How many biscuits you get from the dough depends on how big your cutter is and the thickness that you roll your dough out to.
  • Shortbread is traditionally baked at a very low oven temperature. Don’t be alarmed when you read the instructions and see how low I’ve stated the oven temperature to be set to. The shortbread biscuits are baked for half an hour to ensure they’re cooked all the way through, but when they are ready they’ll be very pale in colour and only slightly golden around the edges.
  • This is a great recipe to bake a few weeks before Christmas as the baked shortbread will keep stored in an airtight container for a month.

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Love shortbread? Try my homemade jammie dodgers next!

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Or try something more festive by baking these Gingerbread Men!

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Enjoy!

jess

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Buck’s Fizz Marmalade Shortbreads

I’ve had the pleasure of creating a recipe using an exclusive Christmas hamper from Fortnum & Mason. Today I’m sharing my favourite buttery shortbread which are perfect for cut-out biscuits or cookies as they retain their shape and do not spread whilst baking. Sandwich together with your favourite curd, jam or marmalade for a delicious sweet treat. #FortnumsChristmas

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Today I’m back with another delicious shortbread recipe! A few weeks back I shared this Scottish Shortbread, since then I’ve put a twist on that recipe and I’m showing you something a little extra fun ready for the upcoming party season.

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Included in my beautiful festive hamper was Christmas buck’s fizz marmalade, a bar of spiced chocolate, mulled wine jelly with edible gold leaf and a jar of spiced port mustard. If you are looking to purchase your own luxury Christmas hamper or would like to give one to someone for an Xmas present, you can browse the Fortnum & Mason website here to see a selection of hampers.

Next came the difficult (but fun) task of picking what I would bake.

After brainstorming a couple of possible recipes I finally decided on baking shortbread sandwiches. If you follow my blog you will know that one of my favourite childhood biscuits is the jammy dodger. Because Christmas is all about indulging and treating yourself, I thought it would be a delicious idea to sandwich these shortbreads together with the buck’s fizz marmalade from the hamper. I also sandwiched some of the biscuits with homemade plum jam that I made with my grandma back in the summer. If you’d like the recipe for the homemade jam, I’d definitely be happy to share it!

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Cut out any of your favourite biscuit shapes. I personally love the traditional heart shape centre, but you can cut out literally anything you like. Go down the festive route with stars, icicles or even mini gingerbread men.

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The marmalade really is some of the best I’ve ever eaten. It has a gorgeous refreshing orange flavour. The sparkle within the marmalade adds an extra special touch for Christmas or any other celebration. We really loved the flavour from prosecco and Marc de Champagne mixed with the Seville oranges. I’m already planning to make something else with the remaining marmalade in the jar, but making more of these biscuits is at the top of my list!

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(Makes 12 large shortbread sandwiches depending on your cookie cutters)

Ingredients:

225g (1 cup or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

150g (1 and 1/2 cups) icing sugar, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or seeds scraped from 1 small vanilla pod)

2 large free-range egg yolks

300g (2 and 1/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

150g curd, jam or marmalade – approx. 1 heaped teaspoon per shortbread sandwich

Icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Cream the softened butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks along with the flour and mix until a soft and sticky dough forms. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Tip: if you want to speed up this process, split the dough in half and wrap each piece up individually in clingfilm. Chilling time will be halved.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F / 160 Fan / Gas Mark 4. Roll out half the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it’s the thickness of a pound coin (approx. 0.5 cm thickness). Using a 7.5 cm cookie cutter stamp out 12 circles. Now using a 2.5 cm cutter and stamp out the centre of each biscuit. Off cuts can be baked as well! I cut mine into star and heart shapes. Please note: you may be able to make more biscuits depending on the size of your cutters.
  3. Roll out the other half of the dough as you did before and stamp out a further 12 circles. Spread the biscuits evenly out onto 2 large lined baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a light golden colour. Keep a watchful eye whilst they’re baking, as the shortbread can brown very quickly in the last few minutes of baking time.
  4. Once baked leave to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. In this time of biscuits will harden and will have become more easily transferable. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  5. Once the biscuits are cool, place about a teaspoonful of the jam into the centre of the base biscuits. Press on the top biscuits and sandwich together – be careful as the biscuits are very delicate and can break easily. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  • Shortbread will store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
  • The shortbread biscuits can be baked ahead of time and then filled and decorated the next day.

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I love how simple these are to make, but they look like you’ve spent hours in the kitchen! Children and adults alike will really enjoy making these shortbread over the Christmas holidays!  

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Enjoy!

jess

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Gingerbread Cupcakes

Spiced gingerbread cupcakes with tangy and fluffy cream cheese frosting. A festive cupcake perfect for Christmas time!

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It doesn’t really much more festive than these homemade gingerbread cupcakes! Lightly spiced with festive flavour packed into each bite, these cupcakes are just perfect for the season!

I’ve revamped a classic sponge recipe by adding light brown sugar for a delicious caramel taste, and festive spices for warmth. The frosting is my go-to cream cheese frosting. It’s completely fail-proof and works perfectly every single time I make it. I use mascarpone for a slightly creamier consistency and it also makes the frosting lighter. Together they are the perfect Christmas combination without being too sweet. A quick note: if you want you can half the frosting, as it makes an ample amount – but if you like a generous portion of frosting just make the whole recipe as I’ve written it.

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When I first tested these cupcakes out we ate them warm with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with toffee sauce – sounds delicious, right? These cupcakes are very versatile, so you can serve them either warm or at room temperature. I personally think serving one of these warm with a generous scoop of ice cream on the side, whipped cream or custard would make a super indulgent dessert!

To decorate the cupcakes I used these adorable mini gingerbread men that I found at the supermarket. But feel free to decorate with your own homemade gingerbread, or simply with sprinkles. These are sure to be a hit with your family and friends at Christmas.

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(Makes 12)

Ingredients:

Gingerbread Cupcakes:

150g unsalted butter, softened

150g light brown sugar

3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

150g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Small pinch of grated nutmeg (optional

1-2 tablespoons milk

Cream Cheese Frosting:

500g full-fat cream cheese (I used a mix of cream cheese and mascarpone), softened at room temperature

150g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

225ml double cream, chilled

Method:

  1. To make the cupcakes: preheat oven to 180 C /160 Fan. Line a cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix to incorporate. Sift together the flour and spices, and add the to the batter. Continue to beat until no lumps of flour remain, then finally stir through the milk.
  3. Equally distribute the cupcake batter between the paper liners. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and when inserted into the centre a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then transport to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
  4. To make the frosting: cream the softened cream cheese with the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the cream in batches and whisk until it’s just starting to thicken. Place the frosting in a piping bag fitted with your favourite tip.
  5. Pipe the cupcakes with the frosting and then decorate just before serving with mini gingerbread men, gingerbread sprinkles or any your other favourite sprinkles.

Enjoy!

jess

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Terry’s Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Terry’s Chocolate Orange Cheesecake. An impressive and delicious no-bake dessert. 

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Christmas is fast approaching – in a month’s time we will be just a couple of days away from the big day! Christmas is my favourite time of year for several reasons. I love putting the decorations up, listening to festive music, baking and cooking lots of delicious food, but most of all I enjoy having break from college and seeing all my family.

So I told you in an earlier post that I’d already been planning all my seasonal recipes. For this year’s first festive recipe I’m sharing this amazing Terry’s Chocolate Orange Cheesecake. All you chocolate orange lovers out there NEED to give this cheesecake a try!

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It wouldn’t be Christmas without Terry’s chocolate orange. It’s one of mine and my sister’s favourite chocolates, I just love the rich chocolate mixed with the aromatic orange. My obsession with chocolate orange is proven with these cupcakes and these cookies.

This cheesecake is based on my popular No-Bake Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake. The base is made up of crushed chocolate orange digestive biscuits and is simply mixed together with melted butter and pressed into a cheesecake tin until compact. The cheesecake filling is made using the same method I use for all my no-bake cheesecakes. Beat together softened cream cheese with a touch of icing sugar and vanilla until smooth, then the fold through melted chocolate orange. I used two whole chocolate oranges in this cheesecake, so it is guaranteed to have a gorgeous flavour! Then the final step is to fold through some very lightly whipped cream and then spread the mixture over the prepared biscuit base. I told you it was unbelievably easy!

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For decoration I like to keep it simple with nothing too elaborate. My sister gave me the idea to fan the chocolate orange segments in the centre of the cheesecake. So we went for that easy design, finishing with swirls of piped whipped cream. This cheesecake is a gorgeous dessert that’s an absolute breeze to make and a treat to eat!

(Serves 10-12)

Ingredients:

Biscuit Base:

300g chocolate orange digestive biscuits (or graham crackers)

140g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Cheesecake Filling:

500g full-fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature

2 x 175g Terry’s chocolate orange (or other orange flavoured chocolate)

300ml double cream (heavy cream), chilled

85g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Decoration:

 Terry’s chocolate orange segments – I also grated and melted some over to decorate

Whipped cream – approx. 150ml double or whipping cream

Method:

  1. To prepare the base: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor to a fine crumb. Add the melted butter and mix until well combined. Tip the biscuit crumbs into a 23cm springform cake tin and press down until firm. Use the back of a spoon of glass to smooth over, place in the refrigerator to chill whilst you make the filling.
  2. To make the cheesecake filling: Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie or in the microwave in 20 second intervals. Leave to cool only for a few minutes – chocolate stills needs to be slightly warm before adding the remaining cheesecake ingredients later to avoid lumps forming. In a medium mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese with the icing sugar and vanilla until softened. In another mixing bowl whisk the cream until soft peaks form.
  3. Fold the cream into the cream cheese mix. Finally, fold through the melted chocolate.
  4. Spoon the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base and smooth over with a spatula or palette knife. Cover and leave to chill for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight.
  5. When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the tin and decorate. Best serve chilled. The cheesecake can be made ahead of time, leave it in the tin, covered with cling film for up to 2 days. Leftover slices (if any!) can be stored in an airtight container in a refrigerator.

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Cheesecake lovers you’re going to adore this! The cheesecake will make an amazing centrepiece on the dinner table on Christmas day!

jess

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Pomegranate Lime Fizz

Pomegranate juice served with lemon and lime soda. A delicious and fresh nonalcoholic drink, perfect for the upcoming party season. 

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This is my favourite drink to enjoy around Christmas time! So today I’m sharing a nonalcoholic drink that’ll be great to drink over the festive season. It’s not even a recipe because it’s so super easy and quick to prepare. The flavours of pomegranate and lime pair well together and no one flavour is too strong or stands out, they all compliment each other. Though this is a mocktail, I promise you, you won’t even miss the alcohol. It’s become somewhat of a tradition in our house to drink this fizz over the Christmas period, seconds all round is guaranteed!

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(Makes 1)

Ingredients:

100ml pomegranate juice

200ml limemade (or lemon and lime flavoured soda water)

Good squeeze of fresh lime juice (more or less to taste)

To serve –

Pomegranate seeds

Lime slices or wedges

Ice

Method:

  • In a glass, start by pouring in the pomegranate juice. Then pour over the limeade (or flavoured soda water). Finish by dropping in a few slices or wedges of lime. Also, sprinkle over some pomegranate seeds if you desire. Serve ice-cold.

Blog post and pictures updated in October 2016. I’d previously shared this recipe along with a bit of writing on having my recipe featured in BBC Good Food magazine in a Christmas winter comfort food booklet, after it had been previously featured in the magazine and on the website back in May earlier that year. This drink recipe was created as a toast to this success.

Enjoy!

jess

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