Hazelnut Shortbread Trees
In the lead up to Christmas I envisioned making pretty homemade gifts (with the help of my Thermomix) and set out making lists of possibilities. One of the ideas that formed was after finding a set of star cookie cutters and remembering a beautiful image I had seen in one of my Women’s Weekly magazines of a shortbread Christmas Tree, and thought it a perfect project to undertake.
While a little labour intensive first time around – I think next time I would make the shortbread cookies and brandy butter cream in one sitting, and then build the shortbread trees the next day…and perhaps avoid the disaster that occurred. The cookies and butter cream both came out perfect (tick), built the tasty Christmas Trees (tick), placed them in the fridge to set hard (tick), removed from fridge ready to wrap and … dropped my top heavy third tree (massive fail) leaving me short one tree for teacher gifts (sigh). Another handy tip…make an extra tree for accidental mishaps.
Anyhow I had back up homemade gifts so not a complete fail…and we enjoyed our Hazelnut Shortbread Trees as table decoration and dessert on Christmas night.
This recipe is perfect for a Thermomix, especially as the icing sugar, rice flour, grated orange rind, hazelnut meal can all be blitzed fresh.
HAZELNUT SHORTBREAD TREES
(converted from Women’s Weekly Christmas and Holiday Entertaining magazine)
Makes about 6 trees (my size)
- 250g butter (softened )
- 2 teaspoons of grated orange rind (app. 3-4 strips of orange rind blitzed for 3-4 sec then measure amount keep rest for brandy butter cream)
- 80g icing sugar (I use pre-blitzed raw sugar)
- 2 tablespoons of rice flour
- 300g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice
- 75g hazelnut meal (1/4 cup) (pre-blitz your own meal)
- Silver cachous
- 1 tablespoon of icing sugar (extra)
Brandy Butter Cream
- 60g butter softened
- ½ teaspoon finely grated orange rind
- 120g icing sugar
- 2 teaspoons brandy
- Blitz the orange rind (see above) scrape rind into a separate bowl and measure out amount required to TM bowl. No need to clean bowl. Add butter and icing sugar.
- Beat butter, rind and sugar in TM bowl 20-40 seconds on speed 5-6 until light and fluffy.
- Add flours and spice to TM bowl. Mix on speed 1-2 for approx. 10 seconds until combined. Then add hazelnut meal in two batches, repeating until mixed.
- Knead on Interval setting for 45-60 seconds. Turn out dough on floured silicon mat and form into a smooth ball. Roll dough between sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Refrigerate for 30 mins.
- Preheat oven 180 degrees/160 degrees (fan forced)
- Using 3 star shaped cookie cutters approx 3cm/5cm/7cm cut out cookie shapes. NB: this is best done with the dough really cold. As it warms it is more difficult to work with.
- Bake smaller stars for about 10 mins, larger stars about 15 mins. Cool on wire racks.
- Make butter cream.
- Sandwich two of each size cookie together with butter cream. Assemble 3 levels of cookies in tree shape. NB. I placed a small amount of butter cream on the foiled covered trays I presented the trees on to keep them stable)
- Decorate trees by fixing cachous to stars with tiny dot of butter cream. Finish by dusting trees with sifted icing sugar.
Brandy Butter Cream
Beat butter, rind, sifted icing sugar and brandy in TM bowl for approx. 20 seconds on speed 5-6. Check consistency.
Not suitable to freeze. Not suitable to microwave.