Where did the time go? Only 3 sleeps to go! Every year, December seems to melt away, even as the thermometer outside my kitchen window drops to near zero.
I made these little cookies a couple of weeks ago, and I’m sorry that it took me so long to get this post up, because they’re simply delicious. Danish klejner are my lifelong Christmas favourites, but these shortbread cookies are so buttery and deliciously nutty that they’re making a run for first place in my heart AND stomach.
Chestnut flour is worth the effort to make it yourself, or the expense if you buy it online. And if you don’t have chestnuts, then try hazelnuts instead.
The inspiration came from these gorgeous Lime Linzers with a bright green curd. I wanted an earthier look to go with the chestnut in the shortbread, so I used the pastry cream recipe I learned from Chef P at cooking school, and spiced it up with a little rum and cinnamon.
Holiday flavours, local nuts from right here on Pender and homemade jam from friends add up to one tasty cookie. I hope these inspire you to make your own Christmas creation.
The best of the season to you and yours!
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
: Nutty, buttery shortbread filled with a holiday-spiced pastry cream
- All-Purpose Flour – 2 Cups
- Chestnut Flour – ⅔ Cup
- Icing Sugar – ⅔ Cup
- Granulated Sugar – 2 Tble
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Butter, cold, in ½” cubes – 1½ Cups
- Vanilla Extract – 2 tsp
Spiced Rum Pastry Cream:
- Whole Milk – 1 Cup
- Spiced Rum – 2 to 3 Tble
- Egg Yolks – 3 large
- Granulated Sugar – ¼ Cup
- All-Purpose Flour, sifted – 3 Tble
- Cinnamon – ½ tsp
- Jam or Jelly – about ½ Cup
- For the cookies: Pulse the flour, chestnut flour, icing sugar, granulated sugar and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter. Pulse to coarse crumbs. Add vanilla and pulse to mix.
- Transfer the dough to a square of plastic wrap on the counter. Bring the sides of the plastic up and over the top of the dough, wrapping as tightly as you can. Form into a 1” thick disk shape and rest the dough in the frige for a few hours to firm up. The dough will be very crumbly and loose and you will think it’s too dry, but don’t despair!
- Preheat oven to 325°F and line 2 baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and set aside for 15 minutes before rolling. Roll out ½ the dough on a lightly floured counter, pressing the crumbs together, to an ⅛” thick. Dust with flour as needed.
- Cut out the base of the cookies with an 1½” – 2” round cutter. Cut an equal number of tops with the same round cutter, then cut out the centers with a slightly smaller cutter.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until just beginning to brown around the edges. Don’t over bake. Cool on a wire rack.
- For the pastry cream: Heat the milk and spiced rum to a simmer over medium heat. Just before the milk is simmering, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl, then stir in the flour.
- While stirring, pour about ¼ of the milk into the egg yolk mixture. Mix well, then add the rest of the milk.
- Return the mixture to a clean pan over medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Boil slowly for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
- Transfer to a glass or stainless steel bowl set over another bowl filled with ice. Cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap to prevent a skim forming. Cool 30 minutes, then chill in the refrigerator until cold. Stir in the cinnamon just before assembling the cookies.
- To assemble: spread a generous layer of the chilled pastry cream on the cookie bases. Top with the cutout cookies, then spoon a small amount of jam into the center.
- Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- No chestnuts? Hazelnuts are delicious too! You can make the flour by the same process described for chestnut flour here.
- No nuts? Just increase the all-purpose flour to 2⅔ cups.
- Whisk the yolks and sugar together for the pastry cream just before you temper in the hot milk. If you do it to soon, the sugar will “cook” the yolks, leaving you with hard globs of egg that will not mix in.
- Don’t stop stirring the pastry cream once you’ve returned it to the heat. Lumps and scorching happen when you walk away from the stove — even for just a minute.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 12
Copyright © © 2009-2011 Island Vittles/Theresa Carle-Sanders. All rights reserved. Don’t Steal — Karma’s Real.
Congratulations to Lorna, from Saskatchewan, who is the winner of Island Vittles’ first giveaway ever! I’ll put your copy of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter in the mail just as soon as you reply to the email I sent you requesting your mailing address.
I wish I had more copies to give away — I loved your comments and tweets. We’ll have to do this again sometime!