Sunday, 9 January 2011

Easy-to-bake birthday party cookies

What better way to indulge in some creative me-time than baking for a party. This weekend was my dear friend's little boy's second birthday and we went over to celebrate. I usually try to steer clear of refined sugar and chocolate when cooking for kids but this time I was short for time. I decided upon a very simple and easy shortbread type biscuit and some colourful polka dot decorations.

Packed up in the ziploc bags, they looked great.

This biscuit dough is incredibly simple to make and because it needs to sit in the fridge for 30 mins (breaking the recipe into two halves), its a good one for mums trying to catch baking time with little ones vying for attention: make the dough, attend to the children, then back to the kitchen to bake. There isn't even any rolling and cookie cutting involved. Intrigued? Read on...

I like adding ground almond to short crust pastry to sweeten it and the nut oil keeps it from drying out. Here's what to do: Sieve together 175g of plain flour, a pinch of salt and 60g of ground almond. Add 100g of cubed unsalted butter (at room temperature). Work the butter into the flour mixture with fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then add 60g of golden caster sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and an egg yolk. Mix this all together until it forms a smooth dough. Roll it into a log with a diameter about 5 cm, then wrap in cling film and put it in the fridge for 30 mins to bind it.

When chilled, cut the dough into slices about 4 mm thick and place them on a greased baking tray slightly apart.


Bake the biscuits at 160C (fan oven, 180C otherwise) for about 15 minutes, until they are golden. Then cool on a wire rack before decorating.

There, I said it was easy!! This recipe is loosely based upon the 'Crazy cookies' featured in the BBC GoodFood magazine (November 2010). The originals did not have ground almond in them and used salted butter. If you decide to bake these for a kids party, remember to check with the hostess for nut allergies! (I can't help it - I've been a lawyer for over 10 years and disclaimers come naturally.)

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