This is a very simple and utterly delicious shortbread biscuits: rich, crisp and buttery with a hint of vanilla and soft pieces of dried apricots.
I used dried apricots given to me by Whitworths. The dried chopped apricots make a classic biscuit even more special; those lovely juicy nuggets set in the shortbread are wonderful: like tiny jewels in every bite!
Some dried apricots are like chewing on rubber, and no matter how good they might be for you, it can be such an effort to get them down! This is not the case with these dried apricots I used here: they are very soft and juicy to begin with and they eat very easily straight from the packet. As they bake they retain their softness. Crucially, the moistness of the apricots do not affect the bake of the shortbread, so you still get very crisp shortbread around the apricots: which is precisely what you want.
White chocolate and apricots work so well together and these shortbreads are elevated to even greater heights by dipping the bases in melted white chocolate, or drizzling melted white chocolate over them. A little sprinkling of finely chopped apricots onto the chocolate before it sets (so the apricots stay in place) adds an extra burst of flavour and a nice vibrant colour.
A mixture of chopped cranberries and the dried apriciots in the dough works very well too.
I am also partial to a ginger version, mixing a teaspoon of ground ginger with the flour along with finely chopped pieces of drained and finely chopped stem ginger. Mind you, crystallised ginger pieces always goes down well. For the ginger shortbreads, I would use dark chocolate instead of white.
I love making these even smaller as petits fours to serve with coffee after a meal.
Recipe: apricot shortbread – makes at least 12, depending on the cutter size
For the shortbread:
- 180g plain flour
- 70g dried chopped apricots
- 135g unsalted butter, softened
- 90g vanilla caster sugar (or use golden caster sugar and a teaspoon vanilla extract)
To decorate (optional):
- melted white chocolate
- a few finely chopped dried apricots
(1) Preheat the oven to 150C(fan)/170C (non-fan)/gas mark 3 and lightly butter a large baking tray.
(2) Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the apricots and the flour, bringing it together gently to form a a smooth dough.
TOP TIP: if you feel the dough is too soft and sticky, pop it in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes before rolling it out.
(3) Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1cm thick and cut out whichever shapes you want. Re-roll the trimmings gently. Place a little apart on the baking tray.
(4) Chill for about 20 minutes: this relaxes the dough, helping to give a light, melt-in-the-mouth biscuit.
(5) Bake on the centre of the oven for 12-16 minutes until a pale gold colour.
(6) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If decorating, drizzle over some melted white chocolate and perhaps a few finely chopped pieces of Whitworths apricots.