Spring is officially upon us (please let this snow stop its bloody March!). What better way to celebrate Spring than with some gorgeous lavender and lime shortbread? Lavender and lemon is the usual flavour pairing you may see in recipes, so in order to be original and adventurous, we’re going with lime, lemon’s exotic cousin.
Lavender tends to be the marmite of the edible flower world. You either love it or hate it. Even lavender lovers like me have to be cautious with how much lavender is added to a recipe; too little and it’s dull, too much and you’re eating fabric softener. My recipe calls for a tsp and a half of dried lavender for all the keen lavender fans out there, but go for a tsp if you’re a little apprehensive. If you hate lavender, or lime for that matter, simply omit either or both ingredients and I promise you, you will end up with the most exquisite basic shortbread ever. The egg yolk gives it a real delicious creaminess and the semolina offers a crunchier bite, just the way shortbread intends. I’ve tried plenty of shortbread recipes in my 4 years of baking and trust me; this one is by far superior.
A little heads up, I’ve used both a squeezy bottle and piping bag to make these as this is my first time piping intricate lines with royal icing, I wanted to test the waters. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Squeezy bottles are the less messy and less fiddly option with the advantage of being able to store any leftover icing in the fridge. However, a piping bag fitted with a smaller tip offers a more professional finish and it’s easier to control, as you can use your other hand to hold the bag. If I had to pick for next time, I’d go piping bag.
I’ve used metallic edible paint to paint on top of the piped royal icing but you can mix lustre dust with vodka if you don’t have paint in your pantry.
These little hearts are great for gifting, just pop them in a clear gift bag, tie with some fancy ribbon and hey presto, you’re the 4th wise man bearing biscuits.
On that note, I hope you all have a lovely Spring, now let’s bake some love!
(Makes 30 heart shaped biscuits about 6cm wide)
Prep time: 1.5 hours including chilling
Total time: 3.5 hours
For the Shortbread:
120g plain flour
100g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
75g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1.5 tsp dried lavender (or 1 tsp if you want it to be very subtle)
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 free range egg yolk
For the Marbled Fondant:
Icing sugar for dusting
150g white ready to roll fondant
3-4 varieties of food gel colour of choice (i used grey, purple, green and pink)
Cutter used for the shortbread
Edible glue or piping gel
For the Royal Icing Design:
200g icing sugar
1 egg white
1 tsp lemon juice
Gold/Silver Lustre dust or metallic paint
Squeezy bottle or piping bag fitted with a small no2 tip
Make the shortbread biscuit dough. Blitz all the shortbread ingredients together in a food processor (except the egg yolk) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the yolk and pulse again until it becomes a soft dough.
Turn out onto some cut baking parchment and place another sheet of parchment on top. Using a rolling pin, roll to about a cm in thickness making sure the biscuit dough is even in thickness. Pop in the fridge for an hour to firm up nicely (don’t omit this step!).
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan. Remove the dough from the fridge and using a heart shaped cutter, cut out the shortbread shapes and place onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Re-roll any off cuts of dough and cut out shapes until all the dough has been used.
Bake for around 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking tray half way through to ensure even baking, until ever so slightly golden. Allow the shortbread to sit on the tray for a couple of minutes before cooling on a wire rack.
Make the royal icing. Combine egg white, lemon juice and icing sugar and mix well. You’re looking for a brilliantly white, toothpaste consistency. Fill up a squeezy bottle or piping bag fitted with a small round tip and set aside.
Make the marbled fondant. Please see the step by step pictures, it’s easy peasy!
Cut out heart shapes using the cutter that was used for the biscuits. Brush some edible glue onto the back of the fondant and carefully attach the fondant to the shortbread, leaving a little border around the edges.
Take your squeezy bottle/piping bag and pipe a thin line around the border. Begin piping lines from one edge of the heart to the other, squeezing the bottle/bag and lifting the nozzle as you go, to achieve straight lines. Don’t worry if you don’t achieve perfect results (I certainly haven’t), you get better with practice and once painted, it looks pretty good!
Once dry, mix some metallic lustre dust with a few drops of vodka, or use ready made edible paint, and begin painting on top of the white icing, taking care not to get any paint on the fondant. This may take you a while, but put on some background music and it’s quite a therapeutic experience! I used metallic paint in rose gold, gold and silver but feel free to use whatever takes your fancy.
Store in a cake/biscuit tin or alternatively package them up and gift them... Enjoy!