Before I get onto these chocolate shortbread stars I need to talk to you about Christmas. And ageing. And how one helps the other.
I have really noticed some of my behaviour change recently. I don’t think people age gradually, it happens in blocks, both physically and for want of a better word, spiritually.
For instance I think I looked pretty much the same from ooh about 15 to about 28. Then suddenly I looked like a woman almost overnight. It’s no coincidence that my first son was born just before I hit 29. And recently it’s happened again. I can’t sleep on my front anymore as it takes about 3 hours for the creases in my face to iron out. I feel like Flat Stanley’s less flat sister.
And Christmas is making me feel old, not in a ‘oh they come around so fast these days, I remember when a whole year took an age to arrive’ but more in that it doesn’t daunt me like it used to. In fact, I relish getting everything ready in good time. That is not meant to sound smug, though to those amongst you who are flapping about and looking for an advent calendar for tomorrow, I am sure it might seem that way. The thing is, I have learnt my lessons. I have been the mother two days before Christmas crying that nothing has been wrapped yet. I have stood in the kitchen on Christmas day, on the verge of tears, wondering how on earth, on such a day of togetherness, one can feel so utterly alone and overwhelmed by the volume of stuff that needs doing. I’ve been there. I’m battle weary. But I’m a warrior now. I know how to prepare for Christmas. I buy less, I do it all earlier. I leave time for making decorations with the kids and writing a Christmas day menu together. I’ve learnt the stuff they remember. (It’s most definitely not the volume of presents under the tree that’s for sure).
Which brings me to a woman called Glennon Doyle Melton. Have you heard of her? She writes Momastery and is a big time self-help, confessional author in the US. I recently read her book Love Warrior. She is part of the whole Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert thing. Now look, she’s got God big time, which in the US is not so unusual but in the UK we’re a little shy of talking about God. Even those of us who do have him/her/it in our lives feel a bit squeamish about proclaiming it publicly. Anyway, the thing I like most about her is not her confessional style blogging, or the God stuff, or her ability to just be who she wants and throw two fingers to the world – it’s actually the stuff she writes about leaving time for her family. Like this post here where she talks about getting all the Christmas shopping done by the first week of December. And that each child is asked to make a list of ‘Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read’. I think that’s a fine list for a child to make.
So what she’s saying isn’t to show off to friends about your stellar organisational skills (though hey, there’s joy in most things), but about eliminating stress and leaving December for enjoying what you have. Not focusing on what you want. I like that sentiment. And I am not naturally that way inclined believe me.
Anyway, this is all a bit heavy for a Wednesday. But I wanted to share. I find writing my thoughts on here increasingly difficult. As the readership grows the community feels so much less intimate. Now I am not complaining, I love that more people have access to the recipes. But I also feel that sometimes it’s easy to be misunderstood. When people have been with you since the start they know you, they get your sense of humour, they are cheering you on. It takes time to build that understanding. And on that note shall we get on with the chocolate shortbread recipe? There’s a video too.
Lots of great recipes like this in my books, Recipes from a Normal Mum, (available on Amazon, at The Works, Waterstones, WHSmith, The Book Depository and many smaller outlets) and The Power of Frozen (available through Amazon).
One year ago: PBJ brownies, Sweet potato, carrot and coriander soup, Pressure cooker beef rogan josh and Coconut and cinnamon tea loaf.
Two years ago: Black forest brownies, Double orange choc chip bundt cake, Sunshine cake and Bonfire cupcakes.
Three years ago: Hazelnut cupcakes with Nutella buttercream, Red root reblochon bake and a Simple banana cake.
Four years ago: Cherry tomato frittata, Lemon brioche and Death by chocolate cake.
Five years ago: Tiramisu profiteroles, Drunken cherry brandy mincemeat and Macarons.
Six years ago: Easy cheesy pasta, Almond coated chicken and Mince pies for mince pie haters.
Make these chocolate shortbread stars ahead and freeze them for up to 3 months before adding the chocolate.
Kit: You can buy a mixing bowl here, a flour dredger here, star cutters here, a marble rolling pin perfect for keeping everything cold here, a microplane for zesting here, a baking tray here, a wire cooling rack here and piping bags here. Oh and jars and ribbon for giving these as gifts.
Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 225g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
- 140g butter
- 85g castor sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 egg yolks
- 20g white chocolate, melted
- 20g dark chocolate, melted
Sieve the flour, then rub in the butter to a fine breadcrumb like consistency. Stir through the sugar, lemon zest, then the egg yolks, using a metal knife to bind. Press into a disc shape, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to Gas 4/150C/fan 130C and prepare a baking tray with non stick baking parchment. Roll out the dough using a little flour to stop it sticking, to about 1cm thick and cut out star shapes. (You can re roll the dough if you wish to make more stars). Bake until just starting to turn golden brown; about 20 minutes. Cool on the tray then transfer to a wire rack and drizzle with melted white and dark chocolate, using a spoon or a piping bag.
NB: This post contains affiliate links.
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Your blog inspired me to make these stars with my daughter to give to her teacher. We had a great time baking together and because I am totally organised this Christmas we had time to make them! After an incredibly stressful Christmas a couple of years ago when I had just returned to work after our third child, I was totally overwhelmed by the whole thing!!! So, I vowed that never again would I merely ‘survive Christmas’ and now I get to enjoy the whole of December and all the Christmas festivities and love. Love your blogs and recipes, keep it up.
P.s. I added the zest with the eggs too, hope that was right?
Thanks for the is great idea.
Ah that’s interesting! x
Hi Holly. Thank you for this lovely recipe. I made your biscuits last night to take to a church Christmas concert today along with a bunch of other baked goods that I volunteered to provide. I added the zest in when I was bringing the dough together with the egg ; was that ok? I know it does not matter as such but it was not mentioned in the recipe, so I just wanted to be sure. Thank you. And thanks for your continued blogging and great content. x
Yes that’s right! xx
I’ve been following you since your GBBO days and love your recipes (your chocolate cake is the only recipe that will do for family celebrations in my house!). I think you’re spot on with the sentiment of planning ahead for Xmas to enjoy the important parts of the holiday – anything that doesn’t get done in time clearly isn’t that big of a deal anyway! Keep doing what you’re doing and sharing your thoughts too, it’s what makes your blog personal and unique. And these biscuits sound delicious, I will definitely be giving them a go this year!
Ah thanks so much – what a lovely lovely comment. x
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