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Makes: The following recipes each make 4 x 20cm-long trees
Iced Poppy Seed Tree
Regular shortbread tree, iced, and sprinkled with poppy seeds. To ice the biscuits, use icing sugar mixed with enough water to make a smooth paste, ensuring it is not runny. Put into a small plastic freezer bag, snip off the corner to make a small hole and pipe on. Dust with poppy seeds immediately and press on gently.
Cinnamon and Ginger Tree
Cook in the same way as the method outlined for the regular shortbread tree. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder to the pastry dough before baking.
Regular shortbread top with cocoa shortbread base (substitute 60g cocoa for the rice flour or corn flour in regular shortbread). Overlap cut-out square-shaped trunks onto a base of triangular tree top by about 3mm, and lightly press to hold, then bake.
Regular shortbread studded with nut kernels. Press the nuts into the shortbread before baking. Use apricot kernels; sliced, peeled and blanched almonds; or pine nuts.
Make equal quantities of regular shortbread and cocoa shortbread. Form each into a long sausage (about 2.5cm diameter) and press together. Slice into 5cm lengths. Place each in turn on an icing sugar-dusted board, both colours upward, and roll out flat. Cut out a triangle from each and bake as above. Stack into square boxes between layers of tissue paper.
This recipe was first published in December 1999.