I’ve made these shortbread biscuits every Christmas for about about 8 years, and every year people comment on how nice they are. I take a batch into work instead of Christmas cards, and package the rest up in cellophane to use as stocking fillers for friends and family. My sister-in-law actually requests them as part of her Christmas present every year, which is lovely, and amusing. She looks forward to them all year, but wont let me make them for her at any other time as she says it wouldn’t feel right to eat them out of season.
It’s such a simple, easy recipe that anyone can do it, you need no cooking skills what-so-ever, so they’re a great introduction to baking for novices, and a lovely activity to get kids involved in. I can’t take full credit for the recipe though, I’ve used the traditional Rich Shortbread recipe from my ancient cookery book The Dairy Book of Home Cookery (see my About Page for more info) and added a citrus twist to make it more Christmassy.
I’ve decorated them in lots of different ways over the years, using coloured icing, chocolate and confectionary decorations such as silver balls and sprinkles. But I’ve found the simple chocolate based, decorations to be the tastiest. My most popular ones over the years have been shortbread in the shape of snowflakes, one half of each biscuit left bare, the other half dunked into 70% dark chocolate; and of course, the white chocolate trees and stockings that you’ll see below.
These biscuits freeze really well. I usually make a big batch at the start of December, decorate some and take them into work, and the rest get put into an airtight container and sit in the freezer until closer to Christmas. Then I just take them out, decorate and package them up.
Ready in 30+ mins (10 mins prep, 20 mins to bake each batch) – makes about 26 biscuits)
- 200g of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 100g of caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons of juice from an orange
- 250g of plain flour + extra for dusting
- 50g of dry semolina
- The grated rind from one large orange
- Chocolate / icing sugar and water / whatever decorations you fancy
- Preheat oven to 160c / 140c fan / gas mark 3.
- Cream the butter, sugar and orange juice together in a large bowl or stand up mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour, semolina and orange rind a bit at a time and mix until well combined.
- The mix will look crumbly. Work it with your hands, drawing it together to form a ball of dough.
- Roll out the mixture using a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.
- Cut into shapes and place on a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray, leaving space between each biscuit.
- Lightly prick each biscuit with a fork and bake for about 20 mins, or until the biscuits are a light golden brown.
- Turn the tray 180 degrees in the oven, half way through cooking to ensure an even bake.
- Leave on the tray for 2 mins, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before decorating or freezing.
Decorate however you like, but this is how I’ve decorated mine:
- Break up 150g of chocolate (I’ve used white) into a bowl, and melt in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring well in between. Then dunk, spread or drizzle over your biscuits.
- Put the decorated biscuits on a clean sheet of baking paper, adding sugar shapes, if you like, then let the chocolate set completely,
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