Yeah, Easter is coming up! It´s time to get the bunnies- and ducks-cutters out of the drawer and start a serious cookie-baking-session.
The recipe for the shortbread is from my grandma in Tirol. Whenever we grandkids visited her, she spoiled us with great food, a choice of delicious cakes, and cookies.
My grandma made the cookies herself, even when she was over 90 years old. She cut out cute flowers and little pigs and lovingly decorated the cookies with jam and chocolate glazing. The cookies all looked different. She painted happy faces on the pigs, and delicate petals on the flowers. Happy cookies! I like thinking back to those days.
I´ve had grandma´s recipe for a long time, but have only now tried it for these bunnies and ducks. I can really recommend it. The shortbread is delicious, thanks to the almonds and the demerara sugar; it is not too sweet, but just right. It has to be cold when you roll it out. If it is too warm, it will be too soft for rolling and cutting.
If you want smoother shortbread, take 2 ½ cups (300 g flour) instead of 1 ¾ cup (200 g) flour and 1 cup (100 g) almonds.
I used a toothpick dipped into chocolate glazing for decorating the cookies; I did not have a brush. The bunnies are therefore not anywhere near perfect. Well, never mind. I had fun decorating the cookies! And as I said, they taste delicious.
1 ¾ cup (200 g) flour
1 cup (100 g) ground almonds
⅔ cup (150 g) butter, cold (lactose-free, if you are very sensitive)
½ cup (100 g) demerara sugar
1 egg yolk
Possibly 1 tbsp. milk or cream, lactose-free
3.5 oz. (100 g) dark chocolate, lactose-free (e.g. Lindt 70%; Merci 72%)
1 tbsp. butter (lactose-free, if you are very sensitive)
This amount of chocolate glazing will probably be more than you will need for the cookies. I had some glazing left when I was done decorating.
4-5 heaped tablespoons confectioner´s sugar, sieved
Red food coloring
Prepare the shortbread dough. I prefer using my kitchen machine for this; it is really fast and easy:
Put flour, ground almonds and sugar into a big mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Add egg and yolk. With the dough hook, knead at low speed until the ingredients combine. Keep kneading until you get a smooth dough. If the dough is too dry and does not combine well, add 1 tbsp. of milk or cream. If the batter is sticky, add a bit of flour. Cool for about an hour (fridge).
You can make the shortbread by hand instead: Put flour, almonds and sugar onto the working surface. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Dig a little hole into the middle of the flour and add the egg and the yolk. Quickly knead to a smooth dough with your hands. If the dough is too dry and does not combine well, add 1 tbsp. of milk or cream. If the batter is sticky, add a bit more flour. Cool for about an hour (fridge).
Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C) (convection oven). Cover two baking sheets with baking parchment.
Lightly dust the work surface with flour. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until about one tenth of an inch thick. With cookie cutters, cut out any shapes you like. Put the cookies onto the baking sheets and bake for about 8 minutes. They should be light, only a little golden at the edge.
Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a bit. They will be very soft when they are hot and will crumble easily! After a couple of minutes, transfer to a cooling rack and let the cookies cool completely.
Chocolate glazing: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt chocolate and butter in a small pot in a double boiler or at low heat on the oven. Stir well until the glazing is smooth.
For the white sugar icing, put the confectioner´s sugar into a small bowl. Carefully add water until the icing is rather thick. If should not run off the cookies when you brush them with the icing.
For the pink sugar icing, put some spoons from the white icing into another small bowl and add some drops of red food coloring. Start with only few drops; keep adding color until the icing is the pink (or red) you want.
Fill the cooled cookies with apricot jam, or leave them as they are. Decorate with chocolate glazing, sugar icing, sugar pearls, sugar writing,…, whatever you want. Go play and have fun!
By the way, I used grated almonds for the bunnies´ „fur“.
Depending on the size of the cookies, you will get about 50 cookies – single ones, not filled ones!