Bringing real baking into your home with deliciously simple recipes.
Prep 30min (+15min cooling and 1hr standing time)Bake 15minMakes 20
The German word spritzen means to squirt and reflects the way these cookies are shaped – by pushing them through a piping nozzle. The almond meal in the dough gives a lovely soft, almost cakey, texture to these chocolate-dipped cookies that can be piped in various designs, including mini wreaths.
250g butter, softened
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
1½ teaspoon natural vanilla essence or extract
450g (3 cups) plain flour
60g almond meal
300g good-quality dark chocolate (45-54% cocoa), chopped
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Line two large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Combine the flour and almond meal. Add to the butter mixture and beat on the lowest possible speed until just combined.
Spoon half the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 13 mm (#13) star nozzle. Pipe 6–7 cm circles onto the lined trays (see Baker’s tips). Repeat with the remaining mixture.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, swapping the trays halfway through baking, or until pale golden and cooked through. Cool on the trays.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Turn off the heat but leave the bowl sitting on top. Dip a cooled cookie into the chocolate to coat half of the cookie. Place back on the lined tray and repeat with the remaining cookies. Tap the trays on the benchtop lightly to settle the chocolate into the grooves of the cookies, then set aside for about 1 hour or until the chocolate sets.
You can use a 6–7 cm round cutter as a guide to draw circles onto the underside of the baking paper to help keep your cookies uniform in size. • These cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
These melt-in-the-mouth buttery biscuits, sandwiched with a creamy, sweet buttercream, are an all-time favourite. This version has the addition of orange zest in the filling, which adds a subtle citrus tang. They're the perfect accompaniment to a cuppa.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
Use an electric mixer on medium to beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy, scraping down the side of the bowl when necessary.
Sift the flour and cornflour together over the butter mixture. Mix on low speed (or use your hands to mix) until just combined and a soft dough forms.
Use lightly floured hands to roll heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the lined trays, about 5cm apart (you should have about 36 balls). Dip a fork in flour and use it to flatten the balls to about 1cm thick and 4cm in diameter.
Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, swapping the trays after 8 minutes, or until the biscuits are a pale golden colour. Remove from the oven and cool on the trays.
While the biscuits are cooling, make the orange buttercream filling. Put the butter and orange zest in a small mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat on medium speed until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and beat on low speed, scraping down the side of the bowl when necessary, until well combined and smooth.
To join the biscuits, spread a little buttercream on the base of a cooled biscuit and sandwich with another biscuit. Repeat with the remaining biscuits and filling.
These biscuits will keep in an airtight jar or container in a cool place (not the fridge) for up to 4 days.
Lemon bars are one of those ‘clever’ slices that combines a simple shortbread-like base and an intensely-tart/sweet lemon topping to create a memorable mouth puckering moment – old-fashioned yet slightly sophisticated, all at the same time.
Icing sugar, to dust
150g (1 cup) plain flour
50g (¼ cup) caster sugar
150g chilled butter, diced
1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence or extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
165g (¾ cup) caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
125ml (½ cup) strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 16cm x 26cm (base measurement) slice tin with butter and line the base and sides with one piece of non-stick baking paper, cutting into the corners to fit.
To make the base, combine the flour, sugar, butter and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture is evenly combined and just starts to come together. Tip mixture into the prepared tin and use your hands to press it evenly over the base. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until it is golden around the edges.
To make the topping, use a balloon whisk to whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon rind and juice until well combined. Add the flour and stir until just combined. Pour the topping over the warm base and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the topping is just set in the center.
Cool the slice in the tin on a wire rack (this will take about 1 hour). Use the baking paper to lift the slice from the tin. Cut into bars and dust with icing sugar to serve.
These bars will keep in an airtight container in a cool spot (but not in the fridge) for up to 3 days.
Mary Queen of Scots' fondness for shortbread is said to be the reason for its increased popularity in the 1500s. Nowadays it is loved so much there is even a National Shortbread Day on the 6th January each year! The key to good shortbread is slow baking until it is pale golden and cooked through – if over baked, or baked too quickly, it will become slightly bitter in taste due to the ‘burnt’ butter.
250g butter, cubed and softened slightly 110g (½ cup) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon extra to sprinkle 300g (2 cups) plain flour 55g (⅓ cup) rice flour
Preheat oven to 160ºC (140ºC fan-forced). Use a 20cm cake tin to draw a circle on two separate pieces of non-stick baking paper, turn over and set aside.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until starting to become pale and creamy, but not too aerated (do not over mix).
Sift together the plain flour and rice flour, add to the butter mixture and use a wooden spoon and then your hands to mix until evenly combined and a soft dough forms. Divide the dough in half and shape both portions into discs.
Place each disc in the centre of the marked circles on the baking paper and use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll each out to fill the circles. Use your fingertips to neaten the edges and then pinch the edges to create a decorative edge. Use the baking paper to lift the shortbread rounds onto two oven trays. Sprinkle with the extra sugar, dividing evenly between the rounds. Use a large sharp knife to mark each round into 8 wedges and then use a fork to pick each wedge three times.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, swapping the trays around half way through baking, or until pale golden and cooked through. Cool on the trays. Cut into wedges to serve.
This shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
With its shortbread-like base, tart apple filling and crunchy crumble topping, this is a slice that you eat with a fork or spoon, not your fingers. It's more suited to dessert than afternoon tea.. although, by all means, feel free to indulge mid-afternoon!
melted butter, to grease
800g apples (such as granny smith or golden delicious)
75g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
thick cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve
190g (1¼ cup) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
110g (½ cup) caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, cubed, softened
1½ teaspoons natural vanilla essence or extract
50g (⅓ cup) plain flour
100g (½ cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
80g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
40g (½ cup) shredded coconut
75g (¾ cup) flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush a 20 x 30 cm shallow slice tin with melted butter to grease.
To make the Base, put the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg with the vanilla, add to the flour mixture and use the pulse button to process until the mixture forms a soft dough. Bring together with your hands and then press the dough evenly over the base of the greased tin to evenly cover. Place in the fridge.
Meanwhile, to make the Crumble Topping, put the flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl and use your fingertips to rub in the butter until roughly combined. Stir in the coconut and almonds.
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and put in a large bowl. Combine the sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over the apples and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the apple slices over the Base in the tin and then sprinkle evenly with the Crumble Topping. Set aside.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the base is cooked, the Crumble Topping is golden, the apples are tender when tested with a skewer, and the base is cooked through.
Serve warm or at room temperature cut into portions and accompanied by cream or ice cream.
This slice is delicious served either warm or at room temperature. It will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature or warm gently in the microwave to serve.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Trish Hegarty. Food preparation by Wendy Quisumbing.
This shortbread had been given a little update with the addition of chia seeds. Packed with omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids as well as loads of fibre these tiny, slightly ‘flattened’ seeds add a little ‘nutty’ crunch to this traditional favourite.
125g butter, softened
75g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or essence
150g (1 cup) plain flour, plus extra to dust
1½ tablespoons black chia seeds
Preheat oven to 160°C. Line two oven trays with non-stick baking paper.
Put the butter, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until just creamy. Add the flour and chia seeds and use your hands to mix to a dough.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Shape into a disc and then use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the dough until 5mm thick. Use a 5cm round cutter to cut out biscuits and place them about 3cm apart on the trays. Re-roll any left over dough and repeat.
Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, swapping the trays after 8 minutes, or until lightly golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray
Chia seeds are available from large supermarkets (in the health food section) and from specialty health food stores.
These biscuits will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
This shortbread is simple and super quick to make - only 10 minutes preparation! Even though you need to chill the dough before slicing into the biscuit shapes it is perfect to make ahead of time and keep in the fridge or freezer for when you need it.
150g butter, diced, at room temperature 110g (½ cup) caster sugar 150g (1 cup) plain flour, plus extra for dusting 30g (⅓ cup) cornflour 70g (⅔ cup) almond meal 1 orange or lemon, zest finely grated 50g candied orange peel strips (optional), finely chopped, to sprinkle
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor except the candied orange peel and process for 1 minute or until the mixture starts to form a dough – be careful not to over-mix.
Turn the mixture onto a lightly floured bench top, bring together with your hands and then knead briefly until smooth. Divide into two equal portions and roll each into thick sausages about 4cm in diameter and 15cm long. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line two large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.
Unwrap the biscuit dough, slice into 1cm-thick rounds and place on the baking trays about 2cm apart to allow for spreading. Sprinkle each biscuit with a little of the chopped candied orange peel if using.
Bake for 20 minutes, swapping the trays half way through baking, or until pale golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool on the trays.
If you don’t have a food processor, leave the butter at room temperature for about 30 minutes for it to soften slightly and then just use your fingertips to rub the butter through the dry ingredients and then your hands to bring it together into a dough.
Keep in an airtight container or jar for up to 1 week.
The uncooked dough, rolled into logs and wrapped well in plastic wrap, can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week. It can also be kept in the freezer, sealed in freezer bags or an airtight container, for up to 1 month. Thaw the rolls in the fridge before slicing and baking.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Line two large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.
Place the butter, sugar, flour, cornflour, cocoa powder, hazelnut meal and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor (see Baker's Tips) and process for 1 minute or until the mixture starts to form a dough (be careful not to over-mix).
Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, add the chocolate and bring together with your hands to combine evenly.
Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the lined trays about 5cm apart. Flatten each with a fork so that they are about 1cm thick.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, swapping the trays halfway through baking, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool on the trays.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can make these shortbread by hand. Leave the butter at room temperature for a little while for it to soften slightly. Put the sugar, flour, cornflour, cocoa powder and hazelnut meal in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with the vanilla and then use your fingertips to rub the butter through the dry ingredients until it starts to come together and forms a dough. Continue the recipe from Step 3.
These shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.