Quick Christmas Macadamia Shortbread Recipe

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“For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.”  ~ W.J. Ronald Tucker

 

This is a super recipe. It’s rich and buttery, and the lovely crispness of the shortbread goes perfectly with a cup of tea. I like their rustic style too. It speaks of kitchens and aprons and being made with love. (If you prefer your biscuits to look perfectly perfect rather than rustic, see note at bottom of page.)

These shortbread make a an easy and thoughtful home-made Christmas gift, and are good to have on hand when friends pop by for a visit.

The recipe can also be made gluten-free or vegan very easily – simple substitutes are listed below.

Shortbread Ingredients:

250 grams butter (1 cup), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup icing sugar (powdered or confectioners sugar), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup cornflour (cornstarch for my USA friends!), 2 and 1/3 cups plain flour, 1 cup of chopped raw macadamia nuts, 1/3 cup of raw sugar (optional).

This works fabulously well with gluten-free flour. If you’re vegan or dairy-free use your favourite butter alternative.

Hint: use level cups of flours and sugars rather than generous ones.

Method

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Shortbread:

Melt the butter over low heat. Cool slightly.

Sift icing sugar, sugar and cornflour into a large bowl. PS. How cute are these stackable little duck measuring cups that my Nana gave me many years ago? I totally adore them!

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Pour over the melted butter. Beat until thick and creamy. You could use a spoon or hand beaters but I use my trusty electric beaters.  The thickened mix will be the consistency of thick custard. Be patient. It takes a minute or two for the magic to work.

shortbread

Then add in the sifted flour. Mix until combined. The mixture will be crumbly and moist. Add the macadamia nuts and mix well to distribute them evenly.

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Cover a couple of oven-proof trays with baking paper.

Place the raw sugar into a small bowl.

Take a teaspoon of mixture and roll it into a ball. Press the ball into the bowl of sugar, and then place the ball sugar side up on the prepared tray.

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Leave some space between each of the biscuits as they will spread slightly. Press the biscuits down gently with the tines of a fork. You could also use your hand to do this, but the fork tines make pretty marks.

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Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Leave on trays for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Package to give as gifts, or store in an airtight container to serve with your next cuppa.

Santa is quite partial to these shortbread as well.

Enjoy!

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Variations:

1/2 cup of macadamias and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

1 cup of macadamias and 2 tablespoons chopped glace ginger

1 cup of chocolate chips

Or just omit the nuts and leave them plain

NOTE: If you are a perfectionist who cannot abide rustic-looking biscuits, make sure that your macadamia nuts are cut quite small. Divide the dough in half, roll into two cylinders, cover in cling wrap and pop in the fridge for an hour until firm. Now you will be able to slice perfect circles that give biscuits with no obvious lumpy bits. You may or may not wish to mar the perfection with fork tines or sugar.

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Ice-Cream Plum Pudding: Seriously easy, seriously yum!

I can’t quite believe that the first post of my blogging career is to divulge my ‘secret’ ice-cream plum pudding recipe.  It’s a variation on shearers’ ice-cream – a recipe used to make icy treats in the Outback where frozen goods are rendered liquid long before they make it home from the store. Here goes:

Soak 1 and a half cups of mixed dried fruit, and a half cup of sliced glace cherries in 3 tablespoons of alcohol – I like to use Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Rum or Brandy (or a combo!)  Best left overnight if possible.  Then add 1/2 teaspoon Allspice, 1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves and 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon.  Mix well.  Inhale fumes!

Toast 100g of slivered almonds in a dry pan over medium heat.  They should be a lovely golden colour – not too dark!  Remove from heat as soon as they are done or they will keep cooking.  While they cool, roughly chop half a cup of white chocolate and half a cup of dark.  Make the pieces small, but not miniscule. I love this old measuring cup – it was my Nana’s and is one of a stackable set of four.  Feel free to taste the chocolate to see if the quality is suitable.

Beat 600ml of cream and a 395g tin of sweetened condensed milk until thick. Beat cream and condensed milk until thick.The mixture must be very thick and hold its shape, but don’t go crazy or it may curdle.  Make sure you use a bowl big enough to hold the remaining ingredients.  Add in the marinated mixed fruit, chocolate and HALF the almonds.  Stir gently to combine.  Taste.  Maybe taste again.  Why not?  You won’t get any more until Christmas!

Take a loaf pan or a pudding basin and line well with plastic wrap, so that there is enough wrap to extend past the container’s edges.  Place the remaining almonds in the bottom of the container and spread evenly. 

Gently add the cream mix on top of the nuts. You may want to leave a little mixture in the bowl for the cook.  Cover the top with some more plastic wrap and carefully fold the edges up onto the top of the pudding so that nothing is exposed to the air.  Place in the freezer until Christmas.

To serve, remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving (you may need less if you live in Australia and are sweltering through a heat wave – or more if you live in an igloo at one of the Poles).  Take off bottom layer of plastic wrap and upend onto a serving platter.  Remove remaining wrap. Slice to serve. This is rich, so a small serve goes a long way. I often use caramel sauce or a chocolate fudge sauce as an accompaniment. Enjoy!

(I can’t lay claim to the pic of the completed pud below – but it gives you the general idea.)