Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chocolate-Nut Shortbread Hearts

These easy shortbread cookies are the perfect treat for Valentine's Day. Recipe makes 20-24 cookies.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
1/4 cup shelled hazelnuts
6 ounces (180 g) dark cooking chocolate


1. Grease 2 large baking trays. Sift flour into a mixing bowl.
2. Add the butter, sugar and vanilla to the flour. Using the fingertips, rub the butter in, then, using a clean hand, squeeze and knead together to form a firm dough.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat round. Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for about 15 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Roll out the dough on the floured surface to a 1/4 inch (6 mm) thickness. Cut out 20 shapes using a 2 inch (5 cm) heart-shaped cutter. Re-roll the trimmings to make 4 more shapes, if desired.
5. Transfer the shapes to the baking trays. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave on the baking trays for 2-3 minutes to firm, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6. For the topping, raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spread out the hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool; rub the skins off, then chop coarsely.
7. Break up the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth.
8. Dip one side of each cookie into the chocolate or spread it on with a small palette knife. Place the cookies on a sheet of waxed paper. Scatter the hazelnuts over the chocolate-coated half and leave to set.

Tip: This shortbread dough is easy to prepare in a food processor - just mix all the ingredients together until a firm dough forms.

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