These simple shortbread biscuits have a little whisky added to create a delicious complexity.
These simple shortbread biscuits have a little whisky added to create a delicious complexity. 123RF

Break out the alcohol for Christmas baking

As all good cooks know, it's time to start planning your Christmas kitchen projects.

If you are planning a pudding or a cake, now is the time to get moving. The dried fruit for either requires soaking for a time in the alcohol of your choice; I prefer brandy but my late mother-in-law preferred rum. It's up to you. If you are after a foolproof recipe for either, email me, or you can find the recipes online at the link below.

Meanwhile, these soft, crumbly little shortbreads have a deliciously complex flavour thanks to the addition of a "wee dram”, or in other words, a shot of Scotch whisky, but don't worry, the alcohol content after baking is negligible. And don't forget as the 'silly season' approaches - made closer to the time, these moreish little treats would make a lovely gift for someone special.


Makes 16


40g oats; 175g unsalted butter, at room temperature; 100g caster sugar; 185g plain flour; 85g fine semolina; pinch of salt; 50ml whisky; 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or dried fruit


Line two biscuit trays with baking paper. Place oats in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Set aside.

Place butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy. Add flour, semolina, salt, processed oats, whisky and chocolate chips; gently mix until a dough has formed. Do not over-mix. Form into a log and chill, covered, in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 170C. Slice log into 3mm thick rounds with a sharp knife. Place biscuits on prepared trays and bake at 170C for 15 minutes or until pale gold in colour. Leave on trays for five minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

For Maggie's Christmas pudding and cake recipes, visit


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