Have you every heard the term extroverted introvert? Well, should you Google it, you’ll surely find my name will as the first part of the definition. In life, I’m bubbly and vivacious and yet, it’s so funny, as underneath all the raucous laughter and bravado, I am actually dying on the inside. Clearly, there is a touch of melodrama to me too. (If only my stage career had taken off in theatre school, daaarling… lol).
Being that I am far more comfortable if a touch lonely behind my camera and laptop than outside with the three-dimensional people, imagine how much I blushed when a lady I’ve never met sent me a beautiful little crystal glass preserves jar as she saw me saying I’d love one to stamp cookies with on Facebook? Oh my, I get so awkward at such lovely, touching, generous acts as I simply don’t ever imagine I even enter anyone’s thoughts if I’m not right in front of them. It really meant a lot to me and I set about creating a recipe for the lovely Deborah, who works with Hungry Hubby. Of course, in a classic JoJo move, I made them as a surprise for her to say thank you without knowing she was off work for a week! Lucky they are easy peasy to whip up so I’ll send another batch in soon!
Cookies are such a lovely thing to make as a gift. They last well so the recipient isn’t obliged to gobble them up in one go (although of course, they may do!) and they are easier to package up than a cream cake! These shortbread cookies are fragrant with vanilla seeds and freeze-dried strawberries and despite being very buttery, they are light and melting in texture. They are quite delicate and crumble if handled roughly so be dainty and put a napkin in your lap as you eat. Or hold your saucer from the cup of tea you’ll want to drink with them under your chin ;)
You mix the dough all in one in a bowl or stand mixer and after making a sausage shape of cookie dough, chill it, slice it, stamp with a patterned bottom glass if you have one, if not any old glass will do. A quick chill again means the embossed pattern remains on baking and these buttery little biccies don’t spread. And they are so pretty with the strawberry pieces and stamped pattern they don’t need any further adornment. They aren’t too sweet so a dusting of icing sugar would be just lovely if you fancy it. I always leave the end pieces as they are, a little awkward and misshapen and gobble them as this awkward baker’s perk. They are a little underdone in the middle being thicker and I love that.
Thank you Deborah for your lovely gift – I hope you enjoy the cookies when you are back at work!
- 220 g plain flour
- Seeds of a vanilla bean
- 2 tbsp freeze dried strawberry pieces
- 75 g caster sugar
- 150 g soft butter
- 1 large egg yolk
Mix all the ingredients together in a stand mixer until they form large clumps them form into a sausage shape about 1.5-2 inches in diameter, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 mins. If the strawberry pieces are very large, chop them finely to begin with.
Slice rounds about 8mm thick and place on a lined baking sheet. If you have a glass with a patterned bottom, dip it in flour and press down to flatten the biscuits to about half the thickness and emboss the pattern onto them.
Refrigerate again for thirty minutes up to over night to chill down thoroughly on the tray.
Bake at 180˚C in a preheated for 10-12 minutes on a lower shelf in the oven.
Place the whole tray on a rack and leave until completely cool to transfer to a serving plate. they are very tender biscuits and will crumble if handled too roughly.
You can make the biscuits smaller or larger but you'll need to keep an eye on them and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
I buy my freeze dried strawberries in my local supermarket - you can get small tubes from larger Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Tesco stores and Ocado do them too. Do share if you find them reasonably priced elsewhere.