Shortbread Christmas Trees

 

There’s just one more sleep to Christmas, people!

Whether it’s your thing, whether you celebrate it or not, it is the season to be kind, to show appreciation, to hold your family just a little closer, to let go, to celebrate.

It’s also the season for baking!

My chocolate crinkle cookies taste FANTASTIC but no one mentioned that they spread… They do not look pretty…

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But my shortbread Christmas tree came out pretty well, I think. Well, except for having to cover up the wrong colour frosting and making a bit of a mess at the top… After all these years of baking, it’s still hit and miss with biscuits and cookies. Give me bread any day!! No matter, it’ll be a cute little centrepiece for Christmas lunch tomorrow.

To all those celebrating Christmas, have a great day tomorrow. To those not celebrating, have a lovely day and enjoy whatever you have planned.

Now I’m heading off to the biggest party, with my little shortbread Christmas trees in tow… Fiesta Friday #100! And the celebration is going to last over two weeks to give everyone a chance to come and party for a little bit over the festive season. A huge thank you to Angie @The Novice Gardener for everything she does and to her merry helpers; this week they are Judi @Cooking with Aunt Juju, Molly @Frugal Hausfrau, Steffi @Ginger & Bread and Suzanne @A Pug in the Kitchen. They are awesome ladies and know how to throw a party, so bring your treats and come say hi!

 

Shortbread Christmas Trees

  • Servings: Makes 4 trees
  • Print

 

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Equipment

7.5cm/7cm/6cm/5.5cm/4.5cm/2.5cm star-shaped cookie cutters *

Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • White frosting pen
  • Cachous or sugar flowers and icing sugar mixture to decorate

Method

  1. Process the butter, sugar, flours and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor, stopping and scraping down sides with a spatula, if needed, until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to combine.
  2. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until just firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Line four large baking trays with baking paper.
  4. Roll out 1 portion of dough between two sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick. Using the 7.5cm star-shaped cutter, cut 8 stars from the dough. Repeat with the 7cm star-shaped cutter, re-rolling and cutting the dough trimmings. Place the stars, 2cm apart, on two of the prepared trays. Bake, one tray at a time, for 10 minutes or until just firm to touch, but not browned. Stand the shortbread stars on trays for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Repeat with remaining dough, cutting 8 x 6cm stars, 8 x 5.5cm stars, 8 x 4.5cm stars and 8 x 2.5cm stars from dough, re-rolling and cutting the dough trimmings. Place on prepared trays, except smallest stars. Bake, one tray at a time, for 10 minutes or until just firm to touch, but not browned, adding smallest stars halfway through cooking. Stand on trays for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once completely cool, decorate the shortbread stars any way you like using the frosting pen. (Make sure to have enough frosting left to dab in the middle of each cookie, which will act like the glue holding the cookies together.)
  7. Place 4 of the biggest stars onto presentation plates. Place some frosting in the centre of each star and top with another same-sized star, rotating the cookie so that the points sit at a different angle to the fist star. Repeat layering with more frosting and the remaining stars, two of each size per tree, except for the smallest starts, to form four Christmas trees.
  8. Add more frosting to the top of each Christmas tree. Working with one tree at a time, sandwich two 2 small stars together and stand them on top of each tree, pressing gently to secure. Pipe any leftover frosting on the trees in a decorative pattern. Set aside to set and then decorate with cachous or sugar flowers and dust liberally with icing sugar.

 

* If you don’t have or don’t want to have so many different sized star shapes, you can make these trees still work really well by only using three different sized star cookie cutters – they will just be a little shorter.

Recipe from Super Food Ideas.

 

 

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Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread – Holiday Cookies with a Twist

I may or may not have opened one of my Christmas presents early… With permission of course!

I’ve got a whole stack of cookbooks waiting to be unwrapped in a few short days, so I randomly chose one from the pile and was utterly delighted when I tore through the paper to find David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert.

It’s a beautiful cookbook, with introductions to each recipe written in the same humorous tone he uses on his blog; not only is Mr Lebovitz a brilliant chef, he is also a marvellous storyteller.

Since the holiday season is upon us, I decided to make the Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread; as the ingredients for making shortbread were quite pricey once upon a time, these cookies were only ever made for special occasions, such as Christmas, Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve) and weddings.

In his intro to this recipe, David writes: ‘The Scottish have shortbread and the French have their sables, but both cultures and cookies are so hidebound in tradition that you’ll rarely find variations. To them I say kick off those highlanders, get your heads out of the sable, and think again’.

All I can say is that these nonconformist shortbread cookies are beautifully crisp in texture and have a delightful caramel flavour. Oh, and that my apartment smells absolutely heavenly at the moment. They will definitely make great little homemade gifts to the hosts of all the upcoming holiday events.

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Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread

Recipe from David Lebovitz, as found in Ready for Dessert. Makes about 40 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 280g plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 225g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 140g packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100g pecans (toasted and coarsely chopped)

Method

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed just until completely smooth and no streaks of better remain.
  3. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat until completely incorporated. Stir in the pecans.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a sheet of cling film and form it into a 11 by 15-cm rectangle about 3 cm thick. Wrap the dough tightly and refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 1 hour.
  5. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  6. When ready, cut the rectangle dough lengthways into 2 equal pieces. Cut each half crossways into rectangles 5mm wide*. Place the cookies 3cm apart on the prepared baking trays.
  7. Bake, rotating the baking trays midway through baking, until the cookies are a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  8. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking trays until firm enough to handle, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.

* Note: For a neater cookie, trim the log before slicing. I chose not to do this as I thought they looked quite cute and rustic. Also, if you are so inclined, you could shape the dough into a log before chilling to create round shortbread cookies.

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