Chestnut, Bay and White Chocolate Shortbread

3:2:1 – plain flour:butter:sugar. That’s the recipe for classic shortbread. Pretty simple instructions too. Rub all of the ingredients together till just forming a dough then squish into a greased tin or cut into shapes.

I however have decided to break the shortbread mould.

I went to a fancy food shop, let’s call it Ballon and fyrne, off Grafton St. where they always have the most wonderful of gastronomic curios. I found myself some chestnut flour ground from the third chestnut of each chestnut tree in the Antarctic by virgin goats on tricycles and handed over all the money I have ever earned. Ever.

Chestnut shortbread it shall be. I then began musing over things that grow in my garden. At the moment there is nothing particularly edible but herbs, one of which is bay. I’ve never used bay in sweet recipes but the flavour is so unique I thought I’d give it a go and so I made some bay sugar. It adds an interesting but almost unidentifiable warmth to the biscuits but they are perfectly tasty without the bay sugar so fear not if you’re not arsed making it just use plain caster sugar in its place.

And finally, doesn’t everyone love chocolate? Yes. Yes they do. I know I’m always coating things in chocolate but it makes everything better. If you for some undiagnosed disorder do not desire your biscuits to be smothered in chocolate then leave the poor beasties naked.


Makes about 16 biscuits

Oven temperature 180 Celsius

Bay sugar;

Caster sugar                     100g

Bay leaves                         2


Chestnut flour                   170g

Butter                                 120g

Bay sugar                           30g

Light muscavado sugar    20g

Pinch o’ salt

White chocolate                 70g

Make the bay sugar. You will be needing a food processor for this part, preferably with that conveniently tiny insert to reduce the capacity. Poor in the caster sugar and add two bay leaves. Whiz for quite some time till the bay has been obliterated. You’ll only need a little bit of this sugar so you can store the remainder in a jar.

Now for the shortbread, put the flour, butter, bay sugar (sieved to remove the larger flakes of leaf) and salt into a big mixing bowl and rub together till you form a ball of dough (this, if you are wondering, is how to ‘rub’). As it comes together you’ll need to use a bit of force to squish it into said ball.

ball o' dough
ball o’ dough

If you fancy yourself as a Jetson put everything into a food processor and whiz to the same dough-ball stage.

Lightly, very lightly, flour a flat surface to roll your dough on – I actually forgot to do this bit for the photos and needless to say there was some unhelpful stickiness. Tip out the mixture and roll into a sausage shape, about 5cm in diameter.

Roll o' dough
Roll o’ dough

Wrap the shortbread sausage tightly in clingfilm to make a cracker. Now if you are partial to a circular biscuit then stop here and leave it to relax in the fridge.

chestnut cracker
chestnut cracker

I, however, like these particular lovelies square. So once you have the dough cylindrical and wrapped, toddle off and find yourself something flat. I chose my geological notebook, alas the only use for it now. Press the cookbook down on the dough to flatten two, opposing faces then turn over onto the remaining curved sides and squish again. Keep squishing the sides until you’re happy with its angularity. You should now have a particularly elongated cuboid. What do cuboids love doing? Relaxing. So put it in the fridge for twenty minutes.

cuboid chestnut cracker
cuboid chestnut cracker

Preheat the oven. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Find a notably sharp knife, serrated if you have it. Remove the shortbread from the fridge, unwrap it and cut cross sections, approximately half a centimeter in thickness, along the length of the roll to form the biscuits (use a sawing action and very little pressure). Arrange them neatly, in ordered little lines on the lined baking trays.

so neat
so neat

At this point I feel it helpful to advise that if you aren’t in the mood for a glut of shortbread you can slice off as many as you like and return the remaining covered dough to the fridge. It’ll happily keep for three days.

Put the trays of potential deliciousness into the oven. They shall take roughly 12mins and will be a pleasing medium sandy shade when baked.

cooked neatness
cooked neatness

Don’t touch them, don’t move them, just let them cool down on the baking trays.

Meanwhile break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place in the microwave for one minute. Check it and stir it. If it’s not melted pop it back in for another minute and so on until it is melted. Don’t start by putting it on for 4mins or it’ll burn and that’d be a fierce waste. Mine only took 90 seconds.

melty loveliness
melty loveliness

You can chocolate the shortbread however which way you want. I like to dip them in at an angle so they are chocolated on the diagonal but if you prefer a chocolate drizzle then drizzle away or you could go for a full immersion. Up to yourself really. I find it handy to put a wire rack on top of the baking parchment in the baking tray to catch any drips. Put the chocolated shortbread back into the fridge to set.

it was a glorious day
it was a glorious day
this is how glorious it was
this is how glorious it was

If you fancy your dentist you could sandwich two biscuits together with Nutella. Just saying.

Anyway, enjoy them.

giant shortbread

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