Festive cranberry, orange and almond shortbread

Jumping on that Christmas baking bandwagon, I decided to make these delightful little biscuits the other day. They taste like a perfect combination of subtle orange and almond, with an extra texture of chewy dried cranberries. Cranberries and oranges are two flavours especially associated with Christmas time, so these tasty morsels would be an ideal addition to any festive table.

I adapted a recipe by Benjamina Ebuehi (of Great British Bake Off fame – https://carrotandcrumb.com/2016/12/20/tis-the-season-for-cranberries/) for these delicious biscuits. My recipe leaves out the white chocolate and instead uses a dash of almond essence to give a very slight hint of nuttiness.

Depending on how thick you roll the dough, this recipe makes between 18 and 24 biscuits. If you like your shortbread thin and crisp then roll the dough to about half a centimetre thick; for chunkier pieces go for about 1cm.

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Ingredients

  • 225g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 tsp orange essence (but if you don’t have any, the dough should still be sufficiently orangey)
  • 1/4 tsp almond essence
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 75g dried cranberries (cut in half if they’re particularly big ones)

Method

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy looking. Add the orange zest, orange essence (if using) and almond essence and combine.

Fold the flour and cornflour into the butter mix (sift them if you fancy) and then add the dried cranberries. Use your hands to bring the dough together – be careful not to overwork or handle the dough too much as this will make it tough.

On a piece of baking paper or a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to your preferred thickness (see the description above). Use any shaped cookie cutter you like to cut out the biscuits. Start at the edges of the dough and cut the shapes as close to each other as possible to maximise the amount of biscuits you can make before having to re-roll.  Gather up the leftover scraps into a ball and roll out again to repeat the process. Sprinkle with demerara sugar to give a crispy, crystallised top.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Place the biscuits on a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The longer you can leave them to chill the better as this improves the flavour and how they keep their shape in the oven.

Bake the biscuits for 15-18 minutes until browned very slightly.

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