I usually use a cookie press to make these, as I find them particularly festive with the little garland shape,” says the food writer Anja Dunk.
“If you don’t want to freeze, you can sprinkle each cookie with some demerara sugar first bake – this adds a pleasant crunch and caramel flavor to the cookies. ”
Christmas seasoned shortbread
Work for: 80-100
275g (2 cups) plain flour (all-purpose)
50g (¹⁄₃ cup) cornmeal (cornflour)
50g (½ cup minus 1 tablespoon) ground almonds (almond powder)
50g (½ cup minus 1 tablespoon) hazelnuts
250g (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2cm/¾in cubes
175g (¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons) soft light brown sugar
A pinch of fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground anise (or one drop of anise extract)
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk for yeast
100g (less than cup) icing (confectionery) sugar, sifted
25ml (at least 2 tablespoons) of freshly boiled water
1. Preheat oven to 180C / fan 160C / 350F and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
2. Place all ingredients in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a stirrer and beat until soft and pliable on low speed for a few minutes. (If making by hand, combine flour, ground almonds, and ground hazelnuts in a large bowl, then mix butter with your fingertips until crumbly. Mix sugar, salt, and seasoning.) vanilla extract and milk, and mix well with your hands. Knead for three minutes until dough is smooth.)
3. If using a cookie press, choose your preferred shape, then knead the dough in the top. Hold the press on the prepared baking tray and click the handle to release a cookie. Repeat this process, placing each cookie 1cm apart to allow the cookies to spread.
4. If using the blender method, select the desired attachment and place your dough in the hopper. Use one hand to rotate the handle, with the other hand holding it just below the spout to support the dough as it expands. When the dough expands to 6cm, cut it out and place it on a baking tray. Repeat this process, placing the cookies one centimeter apart, until both sheets are full. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until just golden.
5. If you don’t have a blender or biscuit press and are making cookies by hand, take small, walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll them into a sausage shape about 5cm long. Place them 2cm apart on sheets of paper. Gently press a fork into the top edge of each cookie and pull it down the length of the dough, flattening and lengthening as you knead. Bake as above, but leave for at least 10 minutes (handmade cookies tend to be thicker and therefore take longer).
6. While the cookies are baking, put the icing sugar in a bowl, pour in the boiling water and mix vigorously until a glossy glaze is formed.
7. Let the cooked cookies cool for one minute before transferring to a wire rack. Using a pastry brush, glaze each cookie while still warm. Repeat the whole process one more time with the remaining dough. Store in an airtight container for up to four weeks.
Recipe from ‘Advent: German Pie Festival to Celebrate Christmas’ by Anja Dunk (published by Quadrille, £25; photography by Anja Dunk), available now.
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