Shortbread is about as prim as Scottish cooking gets, with its fantails, tartan tins and hue as pale as the cool hands that have worked the dough. But not this shortbread. This shortbread is robust. It is nubbly and nutty. It has tramped across the heather and caught the sun.
Rice flour is the secret ingredient in classic shortbread that gives it that slightly sandy texture. Alas, though my larder is stuffed with all manner of nonessential items (liquorice syrup, anyone?) at the crucial moment where baking tunnel vision had taken full hold, I had no rice flour to hand.
What I did have was a vague memory of having glanced over a Delia Smith recipe for walnut shortbread once upon a time, so I homed in on an innocent packet of walnuts, blitzed them into tiny little fragments and threw them into the mixing bowl. Then – in for a penny in for a pound – I followed LottieOakTrees’ awesome idea on the Nigella community recipe board of replacing some of the quantity of regular butter with peanut butter.
Joy. The shortbread was delicious. Especially good with a cup of tea and a sit down after the cold, cold nursery run. Brrr.
Makes around 20 biscuits
Adapted from a recipe on Nigella.com by LottieOakTrees, inspired by Delia.
150g unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
75g crunchy peanut butter
1 tbsp clear honey
150g plain flour
80g walnuts, finely ground
Pinch of salt
Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the peanut butter and honey.
Add the flour, salt and ground walnuts.
Combine to a dough – just and no more, don’t overwork the mixture.
Lay a sheet of cling film over a clean surface and tip the dough into the middle. Form a rough log then wrap the cling film around the log, pressing it firmly into shape. The diameter width of your log will obviously determine the size of your biscuits – mine was around 5cm.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan).
Remove the log from the fridge and unwrap. Slice rounds off the log, tap the edges with the knife to encourage a nice round circle if such things please you, and place them on a non-stick (or lined) baking sheet.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are showing the first signs of starting to brown at the edges.
Let them cool on the tray before removing to a rack to cool completely. Then warm up the teapot.