If you're not completely ready for Christmas year, but like me, the thought of heading into town at this time of year fills you with dread... why not try out this super easy shortbread recipe to wow your friends and family with a thoughtful, personal and downright delicious gift idea?
Wrap in cellophane and tie with a pretty ribbon to make it look extra special. This shortbread should keep for about a week in an airtight container, but it can be made ahead and frozen as well.
Delicately Spiced Christmas Shortbread
8oz salted butter, at room temperature (I've tried it with unsalted as well, but it really doen't give the same 'bite')
4oz golden caster sugar
12oz plain flour
1/2 tsp orange essence
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1. Cream the butter and sugar together for about 5 minutes until the consistency is light and creamy
2. Gradually mix in the flour and the spices to make a claggy paste
3. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface - you will probably need to squish it together with your hands to do so, but don't worry, this is normal.
4. Roll the mixture out to about 1cm-1.5cm thickness. It may be hard to roll with a pin due to the crumbly consistency, so I usually squash it down with my hands first, then just roll to finish off.
5. Cut into small rectangles (about 2cm x 6cm) and use the end of a chopstick to indent the traditional pattern on the top.
6. Bake on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper at 180 degrees Celcius for about 10 minutes, until just turning golden. Keep an eye on them as the high butter content means they are easy to burn if you're not careful.
7. Allow them to cool on a baking rack and they will firm up to the perfect semi-crisp, semi crumbly consistency.