Cranberries and orange make this a festive Christmas Shortbread, coated with white chocolate. Quick and easy to make, and so much tastier when they’re home-made.
I’m a convert to cranberries, especially at Christmas, adding them to biscuits, biscotti and my Christmas cake (that I make only a week before Christmas). Even our favourite Cranberry Chicken Casserole is full of them!
Add in some orange flavours and you have a festive shortbread that’s quick and easy to make – a blessing at this time of year!
What’s in Christmas Shortbread?
You can’t make shortbread without butter. I’m not fussy about salted or unsalted, but for this recipe, the butter is best cold and cubed.
Icing sugar makes this a soft shortbread and the ingredients do mix in easily as the texture of the flour and sugar are the same.
Plain flour (all-purpose flour) is needed for shortbread – you don’t want the biscuits to rise during the cooking process.
Dried cranberries, easy to buy in any supermarket. If you have more than you need and want more recipes to use them up, try Cranberry & Hazelnut Biscotti, or add them to the dried fruit in a last-minute Quick Christmas Cake or Fruit Bundt Cake.
Orange zest and orange extract provide the flavour. Both together are best. If you only have oranges, use the zest of two instead of one. If you only have extract (so useful in so many recipes!) use 2 teaspoons.
Secrets of Success
Ingredients at the right temperature
For Christmas Shortbread this means using butter straight from the fridge. That way, the ingredients mix better and you won’t need to chill the mixture before you cook it.
The mixture will look fairly loose when it’s done. It will start to clump in the processor, but it won’t form a ball of dough
Press the mixture firmly into the tin
Use your fingers and then a spoon to press the mixture firmly into the tin so that it all sticks together.
Run the edge of the upsidedown spoon around the inside edge of the tin to pull the sides down and give a neat finish.
Leave in the tin until it’s cold
Cut the cooked shortbread into fingers while it’s still warm, but let it cool completely before you turn it out of the tin
Decide on the decoration
You don’t need to dip the biscuits in chocolate to have a perfectly nice teatime treat. The chocolate really is an added extra – great if you have the time (and the chocolate).
What else do you need to make Christmas Shortbread?
- 20cm square traybake tin – I use two sizes of tin for biscuits and traybakes. This is the smaller and the one I use the most
- Baking parchment square – Lining the base of the tin with baking parchment makes cleaning easier – and the shortbread fingers come out easily
- Magic Liner – For the tins that I use most often, I cut Magic Liner to fit and wash it in the dishwasher every time.
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For the Christmas Shortbread:
- 200 g cold butter
- 125 g icing sugar
- 300 g plain/all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 teaspoons orange extract (5-10ml)
- 50 g dried cranberries finely chopped
- 1 orange, zested
For the optional decoration:
- 150 g white chocolate
- Edible sprinkles or decorations
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/ 150°C fan/ gas mark 3/ 325°F
- Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment or magic liner
- Roughly chop the cranberries (they will get chopped more later).
For the Christmas Shortbread:
- In a food processor, blitz the butter, sugar, flour and pinch of salt until the mixture begins to clump together. The mixture won't be a solid lump
- Add the orange extract and zest, and cranberries and pulse to combine
- Press mixture into the prepared tin and level (using your hands or the back of a spoon is easiest). You need to push quite hard to firm up the dough
- Prick dough well with a fork
- Bake the shortbread for 45-50min or until nicely golden.
- While it’s still warm, cut the shortbread in half across the middle. Then cut each half into 10-12 fingers about 1.5-2cm (3/4 inch) wide
- Cool completely in the tin.
For the decoration (optional):
- Arrange the biscuits on a wire cooling rack set over a tray
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water or in 30-second bursts in the microwave.For step-by-step instructions see How to Melt Chocolate
- Using a spoon, pour chocolate onto one end of each shortbread finger and gently spread with a knife. Decorate and leave to set for about an hour, or chill for about 20 minutes
- Store in an airtight tin in a cool place, or in a sealed box in the fridge for up to a week.