Royal Shortbread Cookies
The tastiest, butteriest and most luxurious of cookies. Perfect with tea or coffee. You can have them plain, or dip them partially in chocolate like I did. I've decorated the chocolated sections using various nuts...pistachio flakes, toasted almond flakes, crushed hazelnuts, chopped walnuts and I even drizzled some with white chocolate for an extra chocolatey richness. Variety of decorative ideas for your cookies, you can pick whichever you prefer!
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and essence and continue beating. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, then gradually add it to the butter mixture using a wooden spoon, until just incorporated. Turn it out and, if needed, gradually add a bit of flour and mix together with your hands to firm it up slightly. It's NOT supposed to be of dough consistency, it should be soft, almost too soft to handle. That's ok. Divide the dough into 4 balls and place each in a cling film, then refrigerate for an hour to harden it slightly. Then remove one ball at a time, rolling it out between cling film to avoid adding more flour. Use a cutter and cut out whatever shapes you prefer. You need to be fast if you're working in a warm environment!
Place the cut out cookies on a greased tray, and again stick the tray in the fridge for about 10 mins or so for the cookies to firm up again. Pre-heat the oven at 170C and bake your cookies until firm and slightly golden. Don't brown them too much. It should take about 15 minutes or a bit more or less depending on your oven.
Let the cookies cool on a rack. Then, if you want them chocolate, melt about 100gm good quality chocolate either in a micro or using a double boiler. Quickly dip your cookies one at a time and place on grease-proof paper, sprinkle nuts of choice before the chocolate sets. Once all are done, refrigerate for about 10 mins or so until the chocolate is firm.