International cookies! Wow. What a great idea. Thanks to Adrienne of Gastroanthropology (Cinnamon Mexican Wedding Cakes) and Lori of Fake Food Free (Russian Tea Cakes), I partnered up with a holiday cookie baker in the UK, Michelle of 5AM Foodie (On Festive Baking and a Recipe Exchange), who sent along the following cookie recipe.
Light as Air Vanilla Shortbread FingersA Nigella Lawson Recipe, from the December 2002 Observer Food Monthly
- 100g icing sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 100g cornflour/cornstarch
- seeds from 1 vanilla bean (slit the vanilla bean and use a small, sharp knife to scrap the beans out)
- 200g very soft unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius/325 degrees Farenheit. Line a cookie sheet/swiss roll tray (approx. 22x36cm or 9×14 inches) with greasproof paper.
Using a food processor (if you have one), whizz together the dry ingredients and the seeds from the vanilla bean. Add the butter, in tablespoonful sized pieces, then whizz until combined into a dough (it will clump around the blade of the food processor).
Gently flour your hands, and spread the dough out on the baking sheet. A little patience is required – it will take a bit of time. Suggest starting out by using your hands to distribute it as evenly as you can, and then smoothing it out with a wooden or firm plastic spatula or another flat cooking utensil. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into fingers of the size you want (say 3 rows of 12). Prick each shortbread finger a few times with a fork.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and using the same sharp knife, cut the shortbread into fingers again along the lines that you cut before baking (this ensures the fingers won’t stick together when it’s time to remove them from the pan). Return the pan to the oven, and cook for another 5-7 minutes. The shortbread around the edges of the pan should be just starting to turn a light golden brown.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then gently remove from pan and leave to cool on a cooling rack until completely cool. Store in an airtight container. These freeze very well.
- Brown sugar & cinnamon: replace icing sugar with the same weight of brown sugar, and add 1 tsp of cinnamon
- Citrus & almond: Use 50g of finely ground almonds in place of 25g of the cornflour/cornstarch AND 25g of the flour, and add the zest of 1 lemon or 1/2 orange and 1/4 tsp of almond extract
- Hazelnut & chocolate: Use 50g of finely ground hazelnuts in place of 25g of cornflour/cornstarch AND 25g flour, and when cooled, dip the end of each finger in melted chocolate
I decided to go with the citrus and almond recipe, since I had ground almond meal on hand, as well as a couple oranges. Even though my batch was a little toastier than directed, I found the recipe super easy and the end result is tasty. Very good with a cup of tea in the morning while waiting for the kids to get off to school.