Giving Christmas the two fingers…

Shortbread (14 of 14)“He can’t be that much of a Christmas Grinch, can he?” I hear you think to yourself as you read the headline. It’s true, in the past, I have let the fact that organised religion is taking over the winter solstice celebrations get to me. They are even interfering with good, honest commercial activity by insisting that retailers and offices stay closed on the 25th of December. This is really all too much for me. Christmas is looming over the end of the year like some sort of Behemoth. I really have no choice. I will just have to stop all commercial activity for a couple of days and stick up two fingers to Christmas.

Now, when I say two fingers, I of course mean two fingers of delicious shortbread. And, what better thing to go with delicious Shortbread but two fingers of fine Irish Whiskey. I am struggling to stretch this into a post. There are only four ingredients.

I added in the mixer to stop the shot looking as spartan as an economically challenged Irish Christmas.

I added in the mixer to stop the shot looking as spartan as an economically challenged Irish Christmas. Not my best photo ever.

My festive ingredients list:

  • 3 parts flour  (I used 600 grammes)
  • 2 parts butter
  • 1 part caster sugar
  • A teaspoon or so of vanilla essence

Get the butter to room temperature and place it in your stand mixer. Turn it on low and beat the butter for a few minutes.

The butter needs to be beaten a bit before adding the sugar.

The butter needs to be beaten a bit before adding the sugar.

Slowly add in the sugar until you have a light consistency and colour. Slowly add the flour.

The colour changes a bit when the sugar is in there.

The colour changes a bit when the sugar is in there.

At about half way, pour in the vanilla essence.

A poor enough pouring shot. Anybody would think I had been at the whiskey.

A poor enough pouring shot. Anybody would think I had been at the whiskey.

Let it beat until you have a nice consistency. Divide the dough in half (if you are using the same quantity as I did).

Half the dough. Plenty to make a few stars and some roundy ones.

Half the dough. Plenty to make a few stars and some roundy ones.

Roll it out on a floured surface.

Try to not get too much flour on the shortbread while preventing it stick to the work surface and the rolling pin. Not easy.

Try to not get too much flour on the shortbread while preventing it stick to the work surface and the rolling-pin. Not easy.

Pop it into the fridge for 20 minutes. This will make it easier to handle. Cut it into festive shapes.

Very festive. You could even hang these on your Christmas tree.

Very festive. You could even hang these on your Christmas tree.

If you want to give people the fingers, make some of them with the other half of the dough.

The fingers require a more precise bit of cutting.

The fingers require a more precise bit of cutting.

Prick the fingers with a fork to make them look like the ones you buy in airports.

The fingers after getting stabbed repeatedly with a fork. Again, very festive activity.

The fingers after getting stabbed repeatedly with a fork. Again, very festive activity.

Transfer them to oven trays covered in parchment paper. Sprinkle with caster sugar.

A gratuitous uncooked shortbread shot. Just to give you an idea of quantities.

A gratuitous uncooked shortbread shot. Just to give you an idea of quantities.

The big stars getting sugar coated. Perhaps a bit of sugar coating will make us feel more Christmassy?

The big stars getting sugar-coated. Perhaps a bit of sugar-coating will make us feel more Christmassy?

Put them into a 160º C oven for about half an hour. When they start to go slightly brown on the edges, they are cooked. If, like me, you get carried away and make big stars, small stars, rounds and fingers, you will need to watch the oven as each will cook at a different rate.

Cooling on the wire rack. Stay in the kitchen while this is going on to prevent familial theft.

Cooling on the wire rack. Stay in the kitchen while this is going on to prevent familial theft.

Take them out and let them cool on a wire rack. Pour yourself a well-earned two fingers of whiskey.

Sit back and enjoy the delicious shortbread, giving two fingers to anybody who comes into the room.

A well earned two fingers and a few stars and, perhaps one or two of the roundy ones too....

A well-earned two fingers and a few stars and, perhaps one or two of the roundy ones too….

You could give them a star or a circular biscuit instead. That’s up to you.

Happy Christmas.

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Latest comments
  • Hi Christmas Grinch ;)I haven´t made any Christmas related posts (yet!).
    I used to work in retail pharmacy in the UK, gosh the commercial side of Christmas was TOO MUCH! The shop was covered in tinsel as from the end of September and we´d have to wade in packs and presents to get to the pharmacy. 🙂
    Thank you for the recipe, only this morning I had decided it was time I learnt to make shortbread. Happy Christmas!

    • Hi Sofia,
      Retail is a tough business at this time of year. The hard pressed public really don’t know the hours and grief put in and taken by front line retail staff. I’d live to see how the shortbread comes out.
      Best,
      Conor

  • If Father Christmas sees that he’ll want 2 trays for the reindeer 😉

  • Very pretty and if a bit out of focus here and there you can always blame the whiskey. Have a very merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year.

    • Good advice Linda, You have a great one too.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Did the two fingers cause visions of sugar plums? I’ve never baked shortbread but do enjoy their buttery goodness.

    • Hi Karen, you should give it a go. It is so easy and pretty forgiving on the amateur baker (me) too.
      Wishing you and yours every happiness over the season,
      Conor

      • I think I’m going to Conor. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas as well.

  • You think you have it bad. Someone has set up a projector in the office and is playing Grease on a continuous loop. I have watched it 5 times now over 2 days. It wasnt good in 1978 and time has not been kind.

    • Ny better half loves that crap. IF it were playing in our office, I would either smash the projector or throw myself out the window (4th floor).
      Happy Grinchmas.

  • Shortbread is the best possible way on earth to eat huge quantities of butter and sugar. But I seem to have a problem with it disappearing, coupled with a Husband wandering around wearing a ponderous expression of innocence festooned with incriminating crumbs.

    • The great thing is that it doesn’t really taste like a big block of artery clogging gunge. The whiskey opens the arteries up and everything is good in the world. That’s my Christmas theory anyway.

      • Sounds like a theory that should carry over into the rest of the year

  • These photos are incredible!!!

  • Tastefully festive of you, Conor. I can be a bit of a bah-humbug too at this time of year, but that looks very classical and un-commercial and I like that. Have a super Christmas.

    • Thanks Adam, It’s about as festive as I get until the girls work on me and force me to be a little seasonal in my attitude. All good fun.
      Gave a great one.

  • My kind of two finger salute. I’ll have to do shortbread again. I made it years ago and it was fantastic. Made it a couple of years ago and it went pear shaped. Time to try again.

    • I think it probably is cold enough over there now for the butter to hold everything together. Give it a go now.
      Best for the Season,
      Conor

      • And certainly cold enough in the house as well! Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas. 🙂

  • Couldn’t agree more with your Christmas sentiments, two fingers do it for me, stars, very festive, although admit I am building up to a festive post, with some bah humbug thrown in. Thanks for sharing your lovely recipe, and reminding me I’m not alone 🙂

    • A bit of BH is a good thing at this time of year. It reminds those who go overboard that there is an option….
      Extract what good you can from it,
      Conor

  • Jamison and shortbread is a beautiful combination. Love the photos and the recipe. 🙂

    • Thanks Richard,
      Truth is I poured the whiskey back into the bottle after I took the photo. I made up for it since though.
      Happy Holidays, as you say over there,
      Conor

  • This looks infinitely better than the holiday doings coming up for me. Three hours of driving up, and three back after an ice storm tonight, almost a foot of snow over the weekend, and then about 5-6 hours of driving on the 24th and 25th. It will be neither fun nor festive.

    • Amber, take some time to make the shortbread before you travel. It might ease the pin. Probably best to avoid the other side of things until you arrive.
      Travel safely,
      Conor

  • This is all great–wherever the two fingers land. I never thought of pouring myself a stiff one while baking. How foolish of me. And one becomes so forgiving of mistakes. Happy holidays, Conor and best of the New Year. Ken

    • Thanks Ken. The same great wishes to you and yours. Best to leave the stiff ones until after the stuff comes out of the oven.

  • Not a Christmas lover, tho’ I don’t look like a Grinch 🙂 ! Not a biscuit cook either, but I’ll have a glass of Jameson’s, if I may to raise to you to say ‘thanks’ for the Year and may Christmas be happy and bright 😀 !!

    • Thanks Eha,
      I hope you have a great one and that 2014 is all it can be.
      Happy Christmas,
      Conor

  • Cannot wait for it to be over. Perhaps it would pass faster if only I liked the whiskey. 🙂 And, of course, some of that lovely shortbread might help. Merry Christmas, Conor!

    • Merry Xmas, Michelle with a huge smile on my face! Hmm, would cognac be a tad more laughter-producing? Oh, a great few days if I am alreay not making repeat sins on a variety of posts . . . 🙂 !

      • It might, Eha! But I must admit, I’m not much into any of the brown goods (including our local bourbon). However, don’t get between me and a glass of red wine. 😉

        • [laughter!] OMG [terrible I agree !] ~ What will Conor say when I tell on his page I would so love to meet you and you and you . . . and a glass of red would do just fine!! I can assure you we would not have an argument . . .

    • Thanks Michelle,
      In truth, I am both a grinch and a supporter of it. I am conflicted!
      Happy Christmas,
      Conor

  • Is the whiskey for dunking the shortbread Conor? I’d probably dunk mine in some Baileys.

    • Many years ago, at a company Christmas party, the 70 year old dispatch manager was asked would he like something in his whiskey. Through bloodshot eyes (it was not his first of the day) he stared at the asker and said “The only thing you should put in whiskey is your tongue.” I’m with him.
      Happy Christmas,
      Conor

  • Nice to see you’re taking up baking 🙂 I’d probably allow the dough to rest before rolling it out, as I hate it when it keeps contracting on me while I roll it out. Very handsome shortbread. Glad to see I’m not the only one who has a hard time shooting a stand mixer 😉 Happy X-mas!

    • Thanks Stefan, half the dough did rest and was the better for it. I might make some more before we sink into total Christmas nonsense.
      Happy Christmas,
      Conor

  • Short and sweet, just the way I like it. I bet Santa would love to see a sight like that last photo after climbing down a soot-covered chimney. As would any true lover of the holidays. Have a very Merry Christmas, Conor. I’ll toast you with my own shot of Jameson and a shortbread cookie or two.

    • Thanks Tommy, and thanks for all the very positive and entertaining comments throughout the year. It has flown by.
      Happy Christmas,
      Conor

  • What wonderful shortbread Conor! Haha… ah, i love your post titles. They never fail to make me laugh! Anyway, back to the shortbread… I made Argentinean ones this year, with cinnamon (not sure what the Scots would think of that but they were delicious). Love the idea of the whisky… makes a great recipe even better in my opinion. Hope that you’ve had a restful festive season Conor!

    • Thanks Laura. The cinnamon must be delicious in these. Enjoy the rest of the break and have a great 2014.

  • These are exquisite!!!! My kingdom for a stand mixer….I love the fingers, bu the stars are my favorite. happy Christmas, Grinch or no grinch

  • I love shortbread! There is a company on the big island of Hawai’i called Big Island Candies that makes shortbread cookies with macadamia nuts. They are to die for! They are dipped in chocolate….

    • I’d say the macadamia nuts are delicious in it. As for chocolate dipping. Mmmmm…

      • Something new to do! Happy New Year Conor to you and yours!

  • I love homemade shortbread. And like to imagine myself all grown up with a glass of Jameson at my side (it’s only an image as my face cannot lie when I actually drink it). I’m a whiskey wuss.
    And who’s taking the photos of you. Your lovely assistant? cheers, wendy

    • Thanks Wendy,
      My “lovely assistant” is the 10 second timer on the camera. Then, a quick dash around the island unit and get into position. It’s no wonder I take about 100 photos to get enough decent ones for a post.
      Have a great 2014,
      Conor

      • Oh you are so clever. I’m going to imagine that now every time:)

  • My daughter Charlotte loves shortbread. Santa brought her a pack of Scottish shortbread that looks quite like your own fingers. She absolutely loved them and is wondering where Santa got them. I’ll have to show her this post and perhaps she can make them herself.

    • You should encourage it Lidia. They are really easy to do. Making the holes with the fork is good fun, even for a 55 year old, and they are pretty tasty.

  • I’m going to give this a try. I think I’ll like your good just as much as I like your writing.

    • Please do try them Tesla. The only thing to watch for is either undercooking or overeating. They are pretty tasty.
      Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment.
      Conor

      • I’m obviously no good at this whole commenting thing. Sorry for the double post.

        • I’ll fix it in the AM when I am at the computer. Commenting from the bed, on the iPad.

  • I think I’ll give this a try. I think I’ll like your food just as much as your writing. You continue to entertain me with each witty post! I’m a fan!

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