Posts Tagged 'Shortbread'

Gluten-free shortbread

GF shortbread

I’ve been trying to avoid gluten these past few months. I’d heard it can interfere with thyroid function and as I have this beastly little thyroid that has been playing tricks on my metabolism, sleeping habits and general well being for the past six years I thought I’d give it a go.  I’m not sure what I did to piss my thyroid off but it’s may as well have upped and left for all the good it’s doing. Thus far it hasn’t seem to make a difference how much goodness I put into my body my paltry little thyroid gland  sits all high and mighty refusing to work on its own. Well, of course he’s quite happy for me to shell out at the drug store month after month to keep him ticking over but I’m trying to kick his little habit. I’ve called him Fred, because clearly his lack of pro-activeness warrants him male status. I thought perhaps if I starved useless Fred of gluten that he just may start behaving himself again. It’s worked on Don, why not on a lazy thyroid gland?

GF shortbreadOkay, so I’ve never attempted to starve my husband but whilst I’ve been working in West Virginia these past few months he has lost quite a few pounds. Point proven.

Anyway, starving Fred of gluten hasn’t had the desired response I was after. Clearly I need to give him a much more severe beating, the softly softly approach is not going to win him over.

GF shortbread

But whilst gluten-free living hasn’t given my proper thyroid functioning it has opened me up to a whole new world of grains and flours. Quinoa flour, chickpea flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour (!) who knew! All of which, I might add have enjoyed a pleasantly smooth trip through my digestive system without the usual halt in proceedings for a midnight bloating party.
I’ve also been surprisingly pleased with how easy it is to bake without gluten- sure the flavour and the texture is different- but isn’t that what we foodies are always after, something different? I’m sold. This is the kind of shortbread I want to stick a slab of cheddar on and call lunch. But lets be honest, Fred would take that chunk of cheese and find a nice little place for it to nestle down for eternity in my backside. Cheers, Fred- you useless old git.

Continue reading ‘Gluten-free shortbread’


A RECIPE: Chocolate cocoa nib shortbread, revisited


Sometimes, old really is best. There’s that sense of comfort that comes with familiarity- in other words you know what you’re going to get. Recipe testing doesn’t always provide those kinds of assurances.

I don’t usually make a point of claiming favourites but lets just say that if I died from gorging on this chocolate shortbread then it would have been a happy way to go.  As afternoon treat recipes go this one is living with the Gods- well maybe they are sharing a seat with these. If the two of them ever happened to find themselves side by side next to my tea mug in the same afternoon…..oooh well now, that would be asking for trouble.

I’ve tried multiple ways of making them and finally I’ve come up with what I like to refer to as  the ethereal version. And now comes the part where I try to tell you why. Their deeply rich chocolate crumb is guaranteed to sabotage even the most abstemious eaters and hardcore dieters alike. I’m talking, cocoa powder, melted 70% chocolate, chunks of 70% chocolate and cocoa nibs encased in butter, a bit of flour and sugar to hold them together and oh, just a generous pinch of salt for good measure.  These are pure D-I-E-T  S-A-B-O-T-A-G-E and you’ll need to scrub your teeth after to hide the shame evidence. A ticket to chocolate heaven has never been free.

So, if they are so darn good then why did I have to go and change them? Lets just say that I have trouble following recipes- even my own. Plus I think there’s always room for improvement. This time I used a mixture of oat flour and plain flour which gives them just the right texture- they don’t go rock hard in the fridge but they also don’t go soft. I’ve cut down on the salt because I had too many people with uneducated palettes accuse me of loosing control with the salt spoon. They still taste bloody good- they’re just a bit more user friendly. The sugar  was cut down by a third- you won’t notice that there’s less sugar but what you will notice is what great use that expensive chocolate you bought was put to.

I should also mention that it was my gifted friend Dan and his fancy camera who very kindly took these beautiful photos. Dan claimed he was watching his food intake the day he came over- but it did not take persuasion to send him home with half a batch of these little treasures. The remaining half batch  managed to bypass bunking down in the biscuit tin and were polished off with impressive speed and award winning enthusiasm by yours truly and  her husband. Only now that they are gone are we safe from temptation.

chocolate cocoa nib shortbread

Chocolate Cocoa Nib Shortbread

I got the idea for this recipe from another food blogger who made cookies similar to these at work one day. They were totally divine- but being my impatient-self I didn’t want to weigh out tons of ingredients, wait around while the dough chilled and then form into rounds and bake in batches so I made a few ingredient cuts, skipped the chilling and pressed the dough into a tin.

Cocoa nibs (roasted, unshelled chopped cocoa beans) can be bought in gourmet shops- if you go to the effort of seeking them out you will not be disappointed.

You can use all plain flour, but the oat flour gives the shortbread a softer texture- you will want to store them in the fridge.

Makes: 12-24…..

Diet Facts: This recipe is diet sabotage. Do no attempt if you are on a diet.

280g/10 oz bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70 %), chopped and divided

225g/2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened

100g/4 oz light brown soft sugar

150g/1 cup oat flour

150g/ 1 cup plain flour

50g/2 oz unsweetened good quality cocoa powder

50g/1/2 cup cocoa nibs (or chopped nuts)

1/2 tsp kosher salt (1/4 tsp if it’s fine salt)

1 20 x 30 cm baking tin

1/ Heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4. Melt half of the chocolate (I microwave for 1 minute and then stir until it’s fully melted) Beat the butter (ideally in a kitchen aid with the paddle beater) until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fully combined and creamy (about 1 minute with the mixer, 2 minutes by hand).

2/ Add the melted chocolate and mix until evenly combined. Sift over the 2 flours, cocoa and salt and mix until almost combined. Fold through the cocoa nibs and remaining chopped chocolate by hand. If the mixture is really wet, then add another tablespoonful or two of flour. If not, press mixture into tin evenly. If it’s sticking really badly to your hands then lightly wet them. Prick all over with a fork.

3/ Bake in the oven for 25 minutes- it will continue to cook as it cools. After 10 minutes, cut the squares with a knife but leave in the tin. Allow to cool then store in an airtight container in the fridge.

A RECIPE: Malted oat shortbread

malted oat shortbread

I’m not a demanding girl. Really, I’m not. I have simple tastes and I don’t require fancy clothes or jewels or wine. I’m not a bride-zilla and I’m not a nagging girlfriend- I simply tell Don to do something rather than ask. All I ever want is a decent cup of tea and in the afternoon an equally complimentary biscuit. Is that really too much to ask? I think not.

And yet, five weekends out of ten I find myself in a less than satisfactory tea situation delivered by my very own nearest and dearest. My father has made my mother tea, in bed, every morning of their marriage and yet here I am about to embark on holy matrimony and I cannot rely on an acceptable cup of tea. He insists on making it- and I try my best to encourage and compliment if and when it arrives in a drinkable state, but honestly most of the time it isn’t worth the cost of the imported tea bag.

Don does not drink tea. Seriously. Sometimes I question how English he actually is- a Brit that doesn’t drink tea? Sounds suspicious to me. And whilst I regret that we cannot read the papers or eat breakfast pouring each other tea from the pot, I regret even more that Don fails appreciate the finer points in tea making. This isn’t about how long you steep the tea bag for or whether or not the milk was put in before the tea was poured or after- this is about appreciating a quality cup of tea. Quality being key word. Don cannot see the difference between serving a cup of tea that resembles dirty dishwasher or one that it is rich in golden colour. This is a problem.

I can live with the dried up contact lenses that he flicks onto the floor rather than into the rubbish bin. I can handle the large shoes, which I trip over in the morning or the fact that he snores, can’t clean the dishes properly and always throws his dirty clothes over my neatly laid out clean ones. But, this tea situation is honestly quite dire.

My only consolation is that at least I can rely on myself for a decent biscuit (and tea, of course). Something buttery and rich, not too sweet, not too crumbly and one that will dunk without leaving too much biscuity residue in the bottom of my cup. This malted oat shortbread was inspired by a need for something wholesome- malt powder, whole wheat pastry flour and oats. The malted flavour is mild but it really adds depth so I highly recommend using it if you have some lying around. One things for sure, as healthy as these look they won’t be lying around for long- Don ate ten in a row after I scolded him for the abysmal tea he served me. Demanding? I think not.

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Malted oat shortbread’

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