Biscuit Gifts

When you're invited around to someone's house for dinner for the first time, what do you bring? Flowers? A bottle of wine? Or do you make something either to accompany the meal or as a thank you?

Last night, Phil and I had dinner with a family of 5, the middle child of which will be Phil's newest student this school year. At his school, it is an unspoken tradition to invite the new tutor around for dinner to get to know the parents as well as the child a bit better.

This is my second time being invited along as Phil's date :) And I wanted to make a good impression, so I decided to bake some cookies as a present. We don't need to talk about how I ate 4 of them during the day because they were slightly burnt. No we don't.

The cookies were based on a recipe I saw in the most recent issue of delicious magazine, although I put my "particular" spin on them, as usual. They are very crumbly, as they are essentially shortbread cookies with a hefty crunch. If you'd prefer yours to be perfect circles, simply cool the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling out and using a cookie cutter. However, I like things a bit rough around the edges, rustic-looking, so I hand-formed the cookies and pressed them down with the back of a fork. Which gives them a nice little flourish... even if they are a little burnt.

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

Makes approx. 20 cookies

The particulars:

  • 1 cup shelled hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup goat butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups plain gluten-free flour
  • pinch of salt
  1. Heat the oven to 375F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes until golden. Remove and spread out on a tea towel - wrap up and roll around with the palms of your hands to remove any excess shell/skin. Pulse in a food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Mix the flour and salt and sift into the butter and sugar. Add the hazelnut pieces and stir.
  3. With your hands, bring the dough together. At this point, you can place the dough back in the fridge to cool and roll out. Otherwise, start separating the dough into small pieces.
  4. On two cookie sheets lined with greaseproof paper, place the cookies, evenly spaced and pressed down with your palm. With the back of a fork, create an indentation in the center of each cookie (if you want!) - bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden. Do not leave for too long - they will harden as they cool, do not go by touch to determine their "done-ness".
  5. Cool on the trays, and sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.