Walnut Shortbread Hearts with Spiced Chocolate

Shortbread is one of the things we made in the puddings and pastries course I took in the UK this year. We made pecan shortbread, but I decided walnuts would give this a more pre-Christmassy touch.

I also wanted to dip this shortbread into spiced chocolate. Ever since I made spiced chocolate last month, I try to find excuses to make it again, and I thought this would be a really good excuse as shortbread dipped in spiced chocolate sounds very delicious. And tastes very delicious, too, it turns out.

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Make sure not to use more than 1 pinch of each spice, though, as you want the spices to be discernible but not overpowering.

Also, be really careful when you dip the shortbread into the chocolate as it will crumble very easily. It was quite annoying to have the bit I was holding break off and the cookie dropping into the chocolate…

This shortbread is made in no time at all, don’t be put off by the length of this recipe – it’s just my ramblings and comments that make it so long!

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Walnut Shortbread Hearts with Spiced Chocolate

Shortbread
75 g flour [I used spelt flour for a coarser consistency]
40 g chopped walnuts
30 g cornflour
90 g soft butter
30 g icing sugar

Makes about 20 cookies

Dry-roast the chopped walnuts for a few minutes.

Sieve icing sugar into a bowl, add the soft butter and stir it into a creamy mixture. [We did this by hand in the cookery course, meaning using your (rubber-gloved) fingers. It gives you a good feel for the consistency of your dough. You could also use a silicon spatula.]

Next, sieve flour and cornflour into the mixture, add the walnuts, and bring everything together – again, by hand or with a silicon spatula – to make a dough.

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Roll dough into clingfilm, making a sausage, twirling at both ends until the sausage gets smaller and more compact. The less air you have in there in the end, the better. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. [At this point you could freeze the dough sausage, then take out whenever you need it, cut into rounds – still frozen -, peel off clingfilm and bake for 10 minutes.]

When ready, roll dough between 2 pieces of baking paper sprinkled with icing sugar. Dough should be about 0.5 cm thick. Anything thinner will both burn and break more easily. Cut out hearts or other shape of your choice, place on baking sheet, and bake at 180°C until slightly golden. Baking time can vary between 11 – 20 minutes. Both in my course and at home, I’ve always baked the shortbread for 8 minutes, took a look, and baked for 3 more, so for me an overall baking time of 11 minutes was the perfect time. Cookies should not be hard when coming out of the oven. Let cool completely.

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Spiced Chocolate
100 – 140 g milk chocolate couverture
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch powdered ginger
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Once the cookies have cooled down, start melting the chocolate over a bain-marie. Mix the spices, and add to the chocolate once it has melted completely.

Dip each cookie into the chocolate and place on a cooling rack (best to put baking paper underneath!) to dry.

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