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This recipe is classed as intermediate

Rating 3.38 / 5 (13 votes)

Prep time:
15 min, plus chilling time
Cook time:
1 hr 10 min
Serves:
6

Claire Clarke shares her mother’s recipe for a traditional buttery shortbread – perfect with pumpkin-based custards

Method

1. For the set pot crèmes: preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3.

2. In a heavy-based saucepan, bring the milk to the boil and add the pumpkin. Reduce the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, adding more milk if necessary to keep it covered. Drain the pumpkin, reserving 125ml of the milk.

3. Puree the pumpkin in a blender, then pass it through a fine sieve.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs and reserved milk. Add the pumpkin puree, both the sugars and all the spices and mix well. Add the melted butter and pass the mixture through a fine sieve again.

5. Pour into 6 individual ovenproof dishes, such as ramekins, and put them in a roasting tin. Pour enough hot water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the dishes, then put the tin in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the custards are set. The surface should feel firm when pressed and no liquid should come to the top. Do not allow them to boil.

6. Remove the dishes from the roasting tin and leave to cool, then chill. While the crèmes are chilling, prepare the shortbread.

7. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

8. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the caster sugar.

9. Using a sharp knife, slit the vanilla pod open lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the tip of the knife. Add the seeds to the bowl, along with the butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients. As the mixture begins to come together, use your hand to help it form a dough. (Alternatively, you could use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment on a low speed to make the dough.)

10. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten it slightly. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1cm thick. Cut the dough into 15 oblongs and put them on the lined baking sheet.

11. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the baking sheet around and continue baking for a further 10 minutes, until the shortbread is golden brown. Remove from the oven and dust with an even coating of granulated sugar. Leave on the baking sheet to cool.

12. Serve the shortbread fingers with the chilled crèmes.

Ingredients

  • 225 g plain flour
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 150 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50 g granulated sugar, for dusting

For the set pot crèmes

  • 300 ml milk
  • 375 g peeled, deseeded pumpkin, chopped
  • 125 ml double cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 60 g caster sugar
  • 35 g soft dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 g unsalted butter, melted

Tips and suggestions

Cutting the biscuits into oblongs (or squares) will give you a higher yield and prevent wastage and unnecessary trimmings. For a perfectly even finish, use a tea strainer to dust the biscuits with sugar when they come out of the oven.

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