Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chocolate & Sour Cherry Shortbread

Shortbread always makes me think of Christmas.

It's one of the many things I always indulge in during the holiday; tins of thick, buttery shortbread which were sneakily emptied bit by bit when my Mum wasn't looking. I always got in trouble when the empty tin (except for a few crumbs) was eventually found. Nowadays I prefer my freshly baked shortbread to the tinned stuff, and seeing how much butter goes into the recipe is enough to stop me from completely gorging myself on it. I have already made a batch of traditional shortbread, but I wanted to share an adaptation of the recipe that really suits the season. If you want to try the traditional recipe, go to the link further down in this post. It's a great recipe though personally I would add a little bit of salt or use a lightly salted butter.
I'm sure I've mentioned before that cherries are always a big part of an Australian Christmas. We're lucky enough to have fresh cherries come into season right in time for Christmas, and I eat them by the bag until my hands are stained red. The combination of shortbread and cherries just screams Christmas to me. To make it fair to those who aren't able to get fresh cherries at this time of year, I used up some of my delicious dried sour cherries to make these Chocolate & Sour Cherry Shortbread biscuits. A rich, dark chocolate biscuit that is cut through by tangy bits of sour cherry. If you get it right, the biscuit should just melt in your mouth. If you forget about them and let them go too far you'll end up with very dark, dry and crumbly biscuits (as you can see with my letter-shaped biscuits, *sigh*). It's hard to tell exactly when these biscuits are done, unlike traditional shortbread which very obviously turns golden when it's ready. The best thing to do is to take it out when it is smelling lovely and buttery, and waiting for it to cool, giving one a test taste and if it is too floury return it to the oven for a bit longer. Once it's overcooked, it's too late.
If you follow me on twitter you might have noticed the arrival of a very special addition to my household. I knew a long time ago that if I was ever going to buy a KitchenAid mixer it would HAVE to be purple. And this year, on my birthday, I was lucky enough to get one. I'm super spoilt and crazy lucky, because I have a boyfriend who got it for me, a cousin who was willing to carry it back on the plane for me, and friends who bought me the best attachment for it! And yes, I named my boysenberry KitchenAid. I had the name ready before it even arrived. She is Lady Mix-a-Lot - she likes big buns and she cannot lie! The first thing I made was a whole lot of shortbread. I actually had a kooky idea which didn't work out, so these chocolate shortbread were Plan B. But a very pleasant Plan B. And who knew that creaming butter and sugar could take mere seconds?!
Chocolate & Sour Cherry Shortbread
(adapted from this traditional shortbread recipe, makes...erm...a lot of cookies)
250g butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
90g (1/2 cup) rice flour, sifted
260g (2 cups minus 4 tbsp) flour, sifted
4 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C and line two baking trays with baking paper. Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy.
Combine sifted flours and cocoa powder in a separate bowl. Gradually add the combined flour mixture to the butter, beating on low speed until almost combined. Add the chopped sour cherry, beating briefly to incorporate.

Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, and roll flat using a well floured rolling pin (or press flat with floured hands), about 3/4 of a centimetre thick. Use a cookie cutter of your choice to cut shapes, rolling scraps together to be recut. I used a 4cm diameter star shape cutter. Transfer cutouts to prepared trays, keeping at least 2cm apart on all sides. Score surface of cookies with a fork.
Bake the shortbread in oven, swapping the trays halfway through cooking, for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through (They will still be soft when warm but will harden as they cool). Set aside on the trays for 10 minutes to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Timing is very important; the biscuits will taste floury if undercooked (check after they have cooled) and should be returned to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until cooked through. Biscuits will be dry and crumbly if overcooked. When cool, dust with a thin layer of icing sugar. Best served with a cup of hot tea or coffee :) Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.
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  1. Oh, *yum*! Now I have to go in search of dried cherries... not a bad situation to be in. Love those purple mixers... am just the teensiest bit jealous, even with my beloved cobalt one - but bringing one back on a plane is definitely either love or madness!

  2. i love chocolate and sour cherry as a flavour combo - it's such a great way of sharpening the flavour of bitter cocoa.

    i also love the gingerbread man napkin. oh so cute!

  3. It is shameful the amount of shortbread our household goes through at Christmas, and that is only Mac!

  4. They look great and I love the flavour combination!

  5. yay go purple! I love shortbread but I have to stop myself from scoffing them down knowing how much butter is in them! Sour cherry and chocolate sounds great together

  6. Congratulations on the new kitchen aid! I can't wait to see what wonderful creations you come up with - am sure they will be as lovely as the shortbread cookies.

  7. Shortbread makes me think of Christmas too. My Nan always made the best shortbread using her secret recipe.

    I love the cherry and chocolate combination. It's one I will have to try as I love cherries.

  8. yumm! If I ever have to choose ONE cookies ever, that would be short bread :D

  9. Please forgive me for bypassing your amazing shortbread because zomg, I LOVE your gingy napkins! LOVE!

  10. Uhmm yummy, I also baked some cakes they are perfect for Xmas!!!! lovely pics!!!

  11. Isn't the KAid so smexy?? Ooo which attachment did you get? These shortbread look so yummy, I really need to get baking for xmas

  12. ooooo how very pretty and xmasy!! dont u jst love the kitchen aid!! .. love the purple! .. mines pink ;)

  13. yummmmmmmmmmm chocoalte and cherry!! I got a funny story involving my grandpa and cherries haha

  14. These look great! I love chocolate and cherry! Totally Christmas right there!

  15. The boysenberry K-Aid is so awesome ;) Best colour ever =D And those shortbread cookies, I could do with a few right now please? =p

  16. I make so much shortbread at Christmas, it is my favourite! I cant wait to try this variation! Yum!!

  17. Congratulations on the new addition to the family ;)
    I love your festive idea for shortbread. Certainly makes a nice change from the buttery tinned stuff.

  18. Ooooh very nice. I came across dried cherries the other day while spending an absolute fortune on dried fruits for my Christmas pudding, and wondered what they could be good in. You have answered my pondering very nicely.

    Also, hooray for the new family member!!


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