This festive shortbread star tower is a brilliant sharing dessert for friends and family this Christmas. Plus, make the shortbread in advance and assemble the day before to save time during the Christmas rush.
For the shortbread stars:
500g butter, a room temperature
250g caster sugar
750g plain flour
A few pinches of salt
A selection of star cutters, ideally small, medium and large and others if you have them
Two round cutters - a small one approximately 4 - 5cm and a large one approximately 8 - 9cm
To construct and decorate:
150g buttercream icing (made with 50g butter and 100g icing sugar and a little vanilla essence)
50g each of dark, milk and white chocolate, or a combination of these
50g roasted hazelnuts (optional but delicious) or cranberries/raisins if you prefer
50g chocolate chips or stars
Some edible glitter or glitter spray
1. First make the shortbread stars. Cream together the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Form into a ball, flatten, wrap and chill in the fridge for half an hour. It can be easier to do this in 2 batches.
2. Roll out the dough to 1cm thick and cut out 9 stars of several different sizes, 4 large rounds and 3 small rounds. Reroll the trimmings and cut out shapes until you have enough. Any leftover biscuit dough can be cut into small stars or rounds and baked with the rest.
3. Place on a baking tray and chill for an hour. The uncooked shortbread shapes can be frozen at this point, too, and baked from frozen when needed.
4. Bake in the AGA baking oven, on the grid shelf on the floor, for 15 - 20 minutes. To use the AGA roasting oven, bake on the grid shelf on the floor with the cold plain shelf above for 10 - 15 minutes until the biscuits are just beginning to colour. Keep an eye on them and switch over the two trays if baking together to get them evenly coloured. Cool for a few minutes on the baking tray then transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for several days once baked.
5. To assemble the tower, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl on the back of the AGA or in the AGA simmering oven for 10 minutes or so.
6. Make the buttercream icing by creaming together the butter and sugar until pale then adding the vanilla essence.
7. Place a spoonful of buttercream on a serving plate and spread out a little. Take the biggest star and smear a tbsp of buttercream in the centre. Place this star on the buttercream on the serving plate. Next, take a large round biscuit to use as a ‘spacer’ and top with buttercream and position on top of the first star. Repeat with the remaining stars and spacers, using the biggest first, until there is just one left, gently pressing each biscuit in place to make a firm tower. Take the last star, without topping and position on its side on top of the tower.
8. Take the melted chocolates one at a time and pour in a thin stream from the top so that they drip all the way down the tower. Sprinkle over the nuts and chocolate chips and decorate with edible glitter or edible glitter spray, if using.
Store in a cool place until needed. Best eaten within a day or two of constructing. The shortbread stars can be made in advance and either frozen prior to baking or baked and stored in an airtight container.