I think we are all in the need of a little comfort right now. Mine comes in the form of butter-loaded melty shortbread. I couldn't decide between making gingerbread or shortbread this weekend, so I ended up making ginger shortbread! These Christmas tree decorated sandwich cookies are made using a lovely and easy shortbread recipe, mixed with lots of ground ginger and nubs of candied ginger. They are also filled with a pretty pink cherry icing (yay for more butter!).
If you're not a fan of ginger you could skip the ginger part (but that would make me sad). It adds that ever so slight tingle of heat to the biscuits, and goes really great with the sweet cherry icing. I was guestimating a bit with the ginger amounts, I added what I thought was a metric shitload of ginger and it still turned out quite subtle. I've increased it slightly in the recipe below but you can adjust it depending on what you prefer.
I was a little bit lazy with the icing, even though there are some fantastic fresh cherries available in Australia at the moment I ended up using the a cherry jam (albeit a good quality jam) to flavour the icing. It's one of my favourite shortcuts. You're always guaranteed to get a good flavoured icing when you add a bit of jam, without adding too much liquid to the mixture.
These shortbread biscuits are really best when they are eaten with a generous slathering of icing, the cookie itself is not very sweet so it can handle the sweetness from the icing. If you are making the biscuits on their own, I would probably add a little bit more sugar to the mixture. Either way, this shortbread is a great treat for the family over Christmas, and it will look so cute wrapped up in cellophane packages as gifts. The hard part is stopping yourself from eating all of them before they make it out of the kitchen!
Ginger Shortbread with Cherry Icing
(makes about 20 sandwiched cookies, adapted from this Taste.com.au recipe)
250g (about 2 sticks) butter, chopped, softened (I used salted, if not add another 1/4 tsp of salt)
1/2 cup (about 115g) sugar (I used caster/superfine but regular white sugar works too)
1 1/2 cups (about 190g) plain flour
3/4 cup (about 80g) rice flour
3 tsp ground ginger
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp candied ginger, finely diced (crystallised or glace, I used glace)
Optional: sprinkles and/or silver cachous to decorate
For the cherry icing:
125g butter (about 1 stick), softened
2 cups (about 250g) icing/confectioner's sugar, sifted - amount should be adjusted until icing is correct consistency
3-4 tbsp cherry jam (alternatively, use fresh/frozen cherries that are finely diced and add a bit more icing sugar, or make this cherry compote)
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until light and creamy. Sift over flour, rice flour salt, and ground ginger. Add candied ginger and mix on low until it just starts to come together as a dough. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly until smooth (try to avoid contact with the dough as much as you can as the heat from your hands will melt the butter in the mixture, and the more your knead the tougher your biscuits will be).
Roll out dough between 2 sheets nonstick baking paper until 0.5cm (0.2 inches) thick. Using a 5cm biscuit cutter (or a christmas tree cutter like mine), cut shapes from the pastry. Place on baking trays. Press leftover dough together and repeat. Decorate with sprinkles and cachous however you prefer. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until firm (I waited about an hour). Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F) Bake for about 15-20 mins or until light golden. Cool on trays for 5 mins then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare the icing; place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until combined. Add cherry jam and beat again until combined. Adjust amount of jam or fruit and icing sugar until you achieve the right consistency, icing should be smooth but not too runny. Pipe or spoon icing between two biscuits. Can be stored in an airtight container for several days, best kept in the fridge if you are in hot weather.
P.S. Go HERE to check out all my Christmas recipes!