Pani Kitty’s Shortbread

Kitty was another one of my Mum’s besties. She was the first friend Mum made when she arrived in NZ in 1971 and they stayed friends through their kids growing up, pickle and jam making, a shared love of curry, grand babies, retired husbands, roses and a helluva lot of laughs!

This shortbread recipe is the first biscuit I started making for Christmas pressies. The basic recipe is another easy peasy go to. It’s buttery, melt in the mouth and delicious!   I think it is Mum’s favourite of my Christmas Cookies. I normally just make plain shortbread, but the last couple of years I’ve played around with some flavours, to bring the humble shortbread to the new Millennium…

Rolled, sliced and pressed with a fork

Kitty used to roll her shortbread into a thick roll, and slice 1 cm slices, press them with a fork and bake. Which is how I made them for years – until I found cookie cutters and then I tried to be fancy pants! This dough can be cut with cutters, but it’s a very soft dough (especially in a Southern Hemisphere summer) but if you’re gentle it can be done… The other alternative its to roll it out and cut it in freehand squares or triangles…


Basic Dough

500gm room temperature butter

4 C Flour

1 ½ C Icing Sugar

1 C cornflour

1t vanilla extract

Whiz all the ingredients in a food processor until it just comes together – you don’t want to over work the dough, or you get tough shortbread. Tip out onto a floured surface and gently ease into a ball. As it makes a large amount, it is often easier to make 3 balls, and use them separately.

At this stage you can proceed to bake them, or you can wrap in glad wrap and either keep in the fridge or freeze for a later date.

To bake, either roll into a cylinder about 4cm round and slice 1 cm slices. Flatten with a fork and bake for 10 mins @ 180C.

If you want to go down the cookie cutter route, roll the dough to about ¾ cm thick and cut out your shapes.Using a palette knife, carefully place on the baking tray and cook 8-10 mins @180C. Be warned you cannot use really intricate cutters, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

When baking check a couple of minutes before the end – because of the high butter content these shortbread can brown very quickly. You want to catch them as they “tan” around the edges.. But even a bit brown, they are still delicious!

You can serve these plain, or for a bit of decadence I sometimes dip them half in chocolate.

Slice or Cookie Cutter

This recipe makes about 48 – 60 biscuits, depending on the size you cut them. Its easily halved to make less.

Not only does the uncooked dough freeze well. The finished shortbread freezes extremely well, and I often make them a month in advance and bag them as gifts from frozen. They only take a couple of minutes to defrost

New Millennium Flavours

Flavour combos are all the rage these days, so I thought I’d try spicing up the basic shortbread. The following are a few flavours I have come up with that have passed the taste test by my harshest critics – my kids.. lol…

Candy Crush Shortbread

Candy Crush Shortbread

I got the idea for these from an American baking competition. You, of course get the minty candy cane flavour, and the texture of the cookies is slightly chewy. I cut them as stockings and dipped them in melted white chocolate and sprinkled on some more of the crushed candy canes.

125 gm butter

1 C flour

1/3 C Icing Sugar

¼ C Cornflour

25 gm candy canes that you have crushed.

White chocolate melted

More crushed candy canes.

Whiz the dry ingredients with the candy cane until mixed. Add the flour and continue as above. These bake quicker 8 mins @ 180C.

Just before serving dip the ends in melted chocolate and sprinkle with the crushed candy cane. Be warned that the candy cane goes sticky, which is why you have to do it just before serving. But storing in an air tight container should help.

Chocolate Shortbread

Chocolate Shortbread

I tried making chocolate shortbread by adding some cocoa, but I wasn’t happy with the taste. So, I tried with real chocolate, and voila! It’s good. I used dark chocolate, because it gives a deeper chocolate flavour. And you just grate it on a normal grater, makes chocolate flakes. It, of course melts as you bake, and the end cookie is crisper than the plain shortbread, but it is delicious! You can off course add to the richness by dipping half in more chocolate, but I’ll leave that up to you..

125 gm butter

1 C flour

1/3 C Icing Sugar

¼ C Cornflour

1t vanilla extract

100 gm grated dark chocolate

Whiz the dry ingredients together and then add the butter, vanilla and chocolate and proceed as above. Again, it is a slightly shorter cooking time than the plain shortbread – about 8 mins @ 180C.

Orange Cardamom Shortbread

Orange and Cardamom Shortbread

Orange and spice are traditional Christmas flavours, and this is a variation of that. The house smells divine as these ones bake, and they are a very grown up flavour. The cardamom gives them a warm spice that lingers after you eat them, and the orange is fresh. They were the favourite amongst my taste testers.

125 gm butter

1 C flour

1/3 C Icing Sugar

¼ C Cornflour

Zest of I large orange

1 t Cardamom

Whiz the dry ingredients and the orange and cardamom. By whizzing together, you spread the orange oil from the zest right through all the flours. Add the butter and proceed as above. Bake for 8-10 mins @ 180C.

Lime and Chilli Shortbread

Lime and Chilli Shortbread

This has always been one of my favourite flavour combinations. Definitely for Savoury dishes, but I also like it in sweet dishes too. I used a bare ¼ teaspoon of chilli and it made it delightfully warm. You don’t want it to blow people’s taste buds off….NZ Limes are particularly small (especially in the South Island), so I used 3…but if you are blessed with larger limes, you will probably get away with just one.

125 gm butter

1 C flour

1/3 C Icing Sugar

¼ C Cornflour

Zest of 1-3 limes

¼ t chilli powder

Whiz all the dry ingredientswith Lime and chilli. Again, the whizzing will spread the lime oil from the zest through the entire batch. Add the butter and proceed as above. Bake 8-10mins @ 180 C. As you serve these, it pays to warn people about the chilli hit…And it definitely lingers after you’ve finished. I made them the smallest of all the flavours – for that very reason.

Every year as I bake these shortbreads, I am reminded (with a smile) of Kitty and hope she approves of my “adaptations” of her original recipe. I think she’d definitely like the last one, she was the queen of curries, after all..

Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s