Last Friday I decided to have a morning to myself as it is a rare treat for me. The housework could wait for a while and so long as everyone was sorted out and off to work and school and the animals were fed, watered and walked the rest of the morning was my own.
I was back from my dog walk at 9am and off out in the car over to Ilkley, which is about 45 minutes drive from where I live. I fancied going to Betty’s for breakfas and having a wander. Then on over to Skipton to my favourite craft shop Embsay Crafts which I have loved going to ever since I moved to North Yorkshire about 16 years ago. It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning, listening to CD’s in the car I hadn’t listened to for years, followed by Eggs Benedict and coffee in Bettys. For the first time ever there wasn’t a queue and I enjoyed sitting there with a magazine soaking up the atmosphere. After visiting the craft shop and coming out with a couple of goodies I finally got home at 1.30pm and thought I needed to put something in the biscuit tin to keep my growing children happy.
Inspiration came in the form of Jo Wheatley’s book once again, her fabulous book A Passion For Baking, though in my case it’s more of an obsession than a passion! I saw a delicious sounding recipe for Pistachio and Orange Shortbread Hearts which sounded lovely. The hearts were very appropriate for Valentine’s Day coming up. Unfortunately I had now run out of pistachios after using them in my previous bake and I hadn’t got any oranges going spare. I wondered what I could put in the biscuits instead and spotted half a bag of hazelnuts which I needed to use up. Hazelnuts sounded a great idea in shortbread biscuits so I started to roughly chop them before measuring and weighing out the other ingredients.
The recipe calls for 225g of softened butter but I couldn’t believe it, I forgot to get the butter out of the fridge and it was rock hard. I attempted to put it in the microwave for twenty seconds which helped a little. Then caster sugar, flour and semolina was rubbed into the mixture. It took a little effort to work it all together and then I combined in the chopped hazelnuts.
Jo says to chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes but I didn’t do this as I didn’t have time. I usually do chill my cookie dough as I think it rolls out better and bakes better but if I had hung on for another 30 minutes I would have struggled to have got my other jobs done in time for the kids getting home from school. I rolled out the dough in three pieces using a medium sized heart cutter and managed to get 18 great sized biscuits out of the dough. They also expanded a little in the oven.
I had to bake the cookies in two goes as I could only fit two trays in my oven at one time but they were ever so quick to bake at only about 12 minutes. I was watching the oven like a hawk as I was worried the cookies would burn. Luckily they were fine and as soon as they were out of the oven I let them cool down and moved across to the cooling rack. They were dusted with caster sugar.
All my good dieting intentions went straight out of the window as soon as the cookies were cool enough to eat. The temptation was too much to bear. No wonder I am not getting anywhere with my Sam’s Red Dress plan. One cookie disappeared into my mouth, closely followed by another one. I stopped myself taking a third when my phone rang, thankfully!
Hazelnut shortbread cookies as adapted from Jo Wheatley’s recipe.
Love Sam xx