Basil Flower Shortbread

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Our basil is in flower at the moment, and it inspired me to call my Grandma and ask for her Aunt Maise’s shortbread recipe – she’s been promising it to me for a while.

I’d read a recipe for herb flower shortbread in Cooking With Flowers by Miche Bacher (such a beautiful book), and thought I would combine that idea with the Scottish classic.

The basil flowers add a subtle point of difference to the otherwise familiar biscuits. If you prefer, the flowers can be left out altogether or exchanged for other herb flowers like rosemary, oregano or lavender, depending on what you have in the garden.

I had my good headphones on for this bake and I must admit to grooving around the kitchen a whoooole lot while preparing and washing up. It was a Genesis and Led Zeppelin heavy shuffle.

I exercised both days this weekend (including a 36km bike ride this morning!) and I think that’s why I feel super energetic tonight.

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You’ll need

  • 225 unsalted butter, softened and chopped
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice flour, sifted
  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • small pinch sea salt
  • 1-2 tbsp basil flowers
  • extra caster sugar for topping, if desired

Method

1. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl.

2. Add butter to bowl and rub into dry ingredients using the tips of your fingers. This should take around 10 minutes and leave you with a well combined ball of dough, a bit like pastry.

3. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate until firm, around 45 minutes.

4. Meanwhile,ย heat oven to 180ยบC and grease a large oven sheet.

5. Cut chilled dough into two equal portions and roll out into rectangular lengths around 10cm wide.

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6. Cut into pieces around 2-3cm wide and place on the prepared tray. Prick biscuits with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden.

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7. Sprinkle biscuits with the extra sugar and allow to cool.

Grandma used to make her shortbread for my Aunty and Uncle’s cafe and loves to tell the story of a chef who tried it and declared it the best he’d ever tasted.

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I realise that these photos aren’t the best, and I do apologise, but I think Grandma’s story should convince you to give this shortbread a try next time you’re after something easy for afternoon tea or lunches.

Have a great week!

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Salted Caramel Shortbread

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This (less than pretty) batch were a request from my bestie “I love that you bake stuff all the time. Constant supply for Jackie!”

These delicious biscuits have been a crowd pleaser every time I’ve made them, and if you give them a go you’ll soon know why ๐Ÿ™‚

Buttery, melt in your mouth shortbread sandwiched with a layer of salty-sweet caramel and dipped in dark chocolate. Amazing. (my own description just made my mouth water so much that I had to stop writing to go and grab the last one from the fridge)

The process is reasonably easy but quite time consuming because of cooling and refrigeration a couple of stages of ‘construction’. For this reason the original recipe from The Women’s Weekly requires shop bought shortbread rounds- I think it’s worth spending the time to make your own, though, as the home made shortbread is what really makes these biscuits special.

I find a good way of managing my time with this recipe is to make your biscuits and caramel the night or morning before you need the biscuits, and then come back the next or later in the day to fill, chill and dip them.

Makes about 18 biscuits

ย You’ll need:

For the shortbread rounds

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 cups (300g) plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (90g) rice flour, sifted

For the salted caramel filling-

  • 1/2 cup (110g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 60g butter, chopped
  • 1/2-1 tsp sea salt flakes, to taste
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk, mixed with above cornflour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate dip-

  • 185g dark eating chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil

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Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160 C and grease and flour two oven trays.

2. Beat (soft, not melted!) butter and caster sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the water and flours in two batches.

3. Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll into tablespoon sized balls and flatten slightly with a lightly floured fork.

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4. Bake about 40 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden brown around the edges.

5. Meanwhile, make your salted caramel filling. Place the sugar, chopped butter, water and half your sea salt into a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add milk mixture and stir until it boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in egg yolk and vanilla. Allow to cool for ten minutes before tasting, and add more salt flakes to taste, if required.

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6. Place in a bowl and cover with clingwrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove cooked biscuits from oven and cool on trays.

***TAKE A BREAK***

7. Spread caramel over half of your cooled shortbread and sandwich with remaining biscuits (I try to size/shape match my pairs before putting them together). Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (I do this on a cooled tray).

8. Melt chocolate in a small bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (without the water touching the underside of the bowl) OR if you’re game, in the microwave in short bursts at medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in oil.

9. Dip one side of the cold cookies into the melted chocolate and stand on baking paper, at room temperature, until set. When set, feel free to pop them in the fridge, they taste super good either temperature.

So! As you can see this one is a bit of a lengthy process. I promise you it’s worth it, and you can easily work the different stages around the rest of your day (I went to the gym and then came home and dipped them in the chocolate. Dangerous. Tasty).

These are great at a party or to take as a sweet treat to a friend’s place. Have fun!

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Yummmm

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