Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Baking: It's a Wrap

Each Christmas I usually do some baking with the sole purpose of giving it all away to friends and family. It makes a personal and delicious gift, and when presented in a beautiful bowl or container, becomes a gift that keeps on giving all year round, especially so if you attach the recipe. Last year I made my fabulous recipe for Mary McLeod Shortbread for everyone, and this year's creation is Savoury Curry & Cheddar Shortbread, a perfect little nibble with cocktails in front of the fire. I found these lovely German Leonardo hand-blown glass bubble bowls at William Ashley, simply filled them goodies, wrapped them with clear cellophane and finished it all up with a ribbon. Of course you can use any of your favourite cookie or shortbread recipes — the gesture is universal —  they're wonderful gifts made with love, to be shared with those near and dear. Happy holidays and bon appetit!

Savoury Curry & Cheddar Shortbread
Makes 4 dozen

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp Bolst's curry powder
7 oz extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter until smooth. Add the salt, paprika, cayenne and curry at medium speed until blended. Then add the grated Cheddar and flour and mix at low speed until smooth and the dough has come together into one lump.

Split the dough in half and shape into two long 1-inch round sausage-shaped rolls, wrap in cling film and chill for at least one hour or even overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place rolls of unwrapped dough on a lightly floured surface. Slice into 1/8" thick coins and arrange 2" apart on the baking sheet, as the shortbread will expand as they cook. Bake until the shortbread are lightly golden and beginning to brown on the edges, about 11-13 minutes. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheet, then move to a wire rack. Repeat with the second roll. The shortbread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. A wonderful gift, these delicious savoury shortbread are perfect served with champagne or a smart cocktail.