Almond & Lemon Shortbread Hearts Recipe

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The shortbread biscuit is something with which I have an infinite love affair. I cannot find a better biscuit to top with icing, nor to have plain with a cup of tea or to dunk in chocolate when a particular harsh storm knocks at the door. They are as famous in a tartan tin as anything else you'd find at your gran's house and are all the better for it. These little lovies are changed ever so slightly with the addition of zesty lemon and fragrant almonds but don't fret as there's more than enough butter in here to keep them as crisp as you like!

Makes: 12-15 (depending on size)

Ingredients:

60g golden granulated sugar

40g caster sugar

2 lemons, zest

170g butter

200g plain flour

110g ground almonds 

Extra caster sugar, for dusting

Start by beating together your sugars, lemon zest and butter to release the lemons' essential oils. Keep going for a solid 5 minutes or until the butter is nice and fluffy. Pop in the fridge to harden for around 20-30 minutes. Sift your flour in, and gently rub together with your fingertips using a quick twisting motion to ensure your hands don't stay in the bowl too long and warm it up. Sprinkle in your ground almonds and use a knife to cut it through the dough, adding a splash of water if it needs a little help coming together. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to chill for another 30 minutes or so in the fridge.

Meanwhile, sprinkle some flour on to your work surface and if you're using a metal or marble rolling pin, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes to ensure it's super cold. Preheat your oven to 180c. 

When the dough is nice and chilled, roll out to around 1cm thick and cut whatever shapes you'd like from it - for Valentine's I've done some lovely hearts but also some broken ones to stand in solidarity with those who indeed aren't looking for any type of love this year! Freehand is always fun with a sharp knife too. Transfer to a lined baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Leave on the tray to harden for a good 10 minutes after they come out of the oven or they'll fall to pieces. When nearly cool, transfer to a cooling rack and sprinkle caster sugar over them from a height to ensure it sprinkles thinly and in a nice even layer. Leave to cool completely and then devour straight away with a cuppa!