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Reindeer Shortbread (and Speculaas)

December 24, 2009


This no movement (and ergo no baking business) is really not cutting it. Especially not this close to Christmas, not when I’ve been planning on making cookie goodness for giveaways this week for the last few months. I like to do it last minute, as close to Christmas as I can. And alas….I can’t. However, I can post about two lots of biscuits I made earlier in December before injury for a work Christmas function we had to bring something too.

Of course, seeing as this month’s Flavour of the Month is Essential Christmas Cookbook the biscuits are from there.

I love Christmas, as I may have mentioned. I have been lucky enough to be blessed with a white Christmas in 2004 (in Scotland) but I’ve always wanted to experience Christmas in mainland Europe. One day I will, along with Hogmanay in Scotland!

What attracted me to these two recipes though were that desire and that memory. The reindeer is care of SIL for my birthday!

To quote the book: in Germany, preparations for Christmas start weeks before the day. Things such as advent wreaths, candles and calendars put everyone in the mood. The enduring tradition of the Christmas tree began in the 16th century but is said to have been popularised much later by the Germans, to whom it symbolised eternal life. In the 19th century they decorated their trees with fruits and biscuits which couldn’t be eaten until after the Twelfth Night when the tree was taken down.

Speculaas (German/Dutch) – a biscuit from the Rhine area in Germany and neighbouring Holland.
405g plain flour
1t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground nutmeg
¼ t ground cloves
¼ t ground cardamom
160g softened butter
310g brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
45g ground almonds

Preheat oven to 200C Cover baking trays with paper.
Sift flour, spices together in a bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Beat in the egg mixing well and then the milk. Fold in the almonds then the sifted flour mix. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 45minutes.
Take from fridge and roll out into 4mm thick – can cut into shapes if you want or bake directly on the baking tray. Bake in the oven for approximately 12 minutes (mine take closer to 10 due to my oven!)
Cool the biscuits on wire racks. When cold, store in airtight container.

Scottish Shortbread
250g butter, softened
160g caster sugar
210g plain flour
90g rice flour
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a tray with baking paper
Beat the sugar and butter until light and creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and add the flours. Mix to a soft dough with a flad-bladed knife. Lift onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Transfer to the tray (the recipe suggested a pizza tray so you can flute and cut into segments….which would be more traditional but I didn’t) Bake in middle shelf for approximately 35minutes or until firm and lightly golden, cool on the tray.

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