Quick Christmas Macadamia Shortbread Recipe

2014-12-18 19.31.46

“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!

2014-12-18 16.53.11

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.

2014-12-18 16.57.42

2014-12-18 17.24.19

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.

2014-12-18 17.25.36

 

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.

2014-12-18 17.28.58

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

2014-12-18 19.26.30

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!

2014-12-18 19.34.29

 

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.

2014-12-18 19.30.38

Heavenly Chocolate Brownie Recipe

This brownie recipe is so good that my neighbour’s son prefers to be paid by the tin full rather than take cash when he works in my garden! As the picture suggests it is moist, dense and fudgey.  It’s a pleasure to make, using only a large saucepan and a cup. You can have it in the oven in ten minutes, and half an hour later it’s done. I always make a double batch in a baking tray (approx 22cm x 32 cm) because it doesn’t seem to last long around here. The recipe below is for a standard batch.

*Be warned – they are highly addictive!

Ingredients: 125g unsalted butter (one stick or 4 ounces), chopped into chunks (you can use salted but I prefer the sweetness of unsalted butter for this recipe), 200 grams dark chocolate broken into chunks (7 ounces chocolate or 1 cup), 3/4 cup soft brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup plain flour (all purpose flour), 3 eggs, 1 cup of nuts or chocolate chunks or a combination to suit yourself.

Note – Good nuts to use include walnuts, pecans or macadamias.  Chocolate chunks should be largish – if you use small chocolate drops they will melt and you won’t have any evidence of them in your finished brownie. Milk, dark or white chocolate are all fine – use whatever takes your fancy.  I also use fresh berries from time to time for a pleasing variation.

Method:  Use baking paper to line a slice tin (28cm x 18cm or 8 inches by 12 inches) Add the butter, sugar and chocolate to a large saucepan. Melt ingredients over low heat, stirring until all combined. Turn off the heat. It should be warm but not hot.  If you can’t stick your finger comfortably into the mixture let it cool a little. Add the vanilla.

Dump in the cup of flour, and then break the eggs into the cup, beat lightly and add to the saucepan too.  Mix well to combine.  Add the chocolate chunks or nuts and mix through, then pour batter into tray.

Bake at 180 degrees celcius or 160 degrees celcius in a fan forced oven (moderate or 355F – drop a little lower if fan forced) for 30 minutes.  Mixture should no longer be wobbly but a pick inserted in the middle of the cake should come out with traces of mixture still clinging to it. If you like your brownies fudgey take them out now.  If you like them firmer and more cake-like cook for 40 minutes. (You may need to play around with this timing depending on the speed of your oven.  They all differ a little.)

Cool in tin.  To serve dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.  They are excellent warm, served with cream or ice-cream. A perfect accompaniment to coffee.  They also travel well and make great gifts.  Enjoy!