Some of you might remember my Hello Kitty fest a couple of weeks ago, for today the recipient came to visit in order to make her own cookies. This time, however, there was not a Hello Kitty in sight, as I had purchased a cookie stamp of my own: ‘Naschkatze’ is what you call someone who has a sweet tooth, literally translated it is a cat who likes to nibble. Metaphors are a funny thing in foreign languages – why call someone ‘a cat who likes a nibble’ when you could just as easily describe them as having a bony enamel-coated structure that tastes similar to sugar or honey? Shortbread is easy to make and comes in handy when you’ve got the kettle on when you realise you feel a little peckish. The dough needs to rest for an hour or so in the fridge before your can use it, though, but on the upside the finished cookies can be stored in a tin in a cool place for up to a month. In theory, that is. In practice they’re gone long before that. Even if they’re not Hello Kitty-shaped.
Easy Shortbread (makes ca. 25 cookies)
- 400g plain flour
- 250g butter
- 160g caster sugar
- 20g vanilla sugar
- grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- a little extra vanilla sugar to sprinkle over the finished cookies
Mix the ingredients quickly: before I use my hands to knead it into a dough I use a spatula to cut the butter into small chunks and mixing it with the flour and sugar. Once it all sticks together, resist the temptation to work it into a smooth dough: if you overwork it and the butter gets too warm you’ll end up with rather bland and hard cookies instead of the crumbly, even flaky texture of traditional shortbread. Store in the fridge for an hour or two, before heating your oven to 175C. As you can see, the dough is slightly crumbly and will take a little patience to roll out: do not despair, it will all work out in the end. Simply roll it out on a lightly floured surface and knead it until you get there – and then stop! Remember not to overwork it! The thickness is really up to you, the ones here I rolled out to a thinness of around half a centimetre. Using your cookie stamp, punch in the shapes and use a pastry cutter to cut them into shape. Place them on a greased baking tray and bake for ca. 15 minutes: they need to look slightly undercooked rather than too dark. Sprinkle a little vanilla sugar on the hot cookies and leave them to cool. Store the remaining cookies in a tin or a jar. I am bringing mine over to Angie’s at The Novice Gardener, who has invited us again for her weekly Fiesta Friday party, this time with the help of Nancy @Feasting With Friends co-hosting the party, along with Loretta @Safari of the Mind.
Shortbread’s not very spectacular, I know, especially in comparison to the delicacies the other guests are bound to bring, but these cookies will come into their own once you’re full and enjoying a cup of tea. That’s when you’ll realise that there might be just enough space left for one of these little treats. Happy Fiesta Friday!