Horseshoe Shortbreads

I feel like I have unwillingly embarked on a trip to the past lately, mostly because these biscuits were (and still are) a staple of Italian bakeries. I remember seeing them behind the big glass counter as a kid and being slightly puzzled by their unconventional shape. They might be traditional shortbread biscuits shaped as horseshoes and then dipped in chocolate and yet, somehow, they are something more too.

Making them is a cup of tea: I would say the only challenging part is shaping them. The secret here is, unlike all other shortbread, to keep the pastry very warm, so that you can roll and shape them very easily. Don’t worry if they all come out differently, because unless you start weighing every single walnut-sized nugget of pastry, you won’t be able to get them all perfectly equal. And, I say, who cares? Life is difficult enough and they won’t taste any different. If you don’t like dark chocolate, you can choose to dip the ends in white chocolate, or opt for a more artistic choice and combine both. On that note, you could also decide to go for a stripey pattern, that is completely up to you.

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Ingredients

  • 500g plain flour
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 125g cornflour
  • 375g unsalted butter
  • 250g dark chocolate

Method

  1. Start with the pastry. Sift the flour, icing sugar and cornflour in a big bowl, then add the butter in small cubes and start rubbing it in. If you are unsure of how to proceed, check my tutorial.
  2. Once your butter is fully incorporated and your mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, try and bring the pastry together by gently pressing it down and applying more heat with your hands. This will gently melt the butter and make your pastry clump together.
  3. At this point, you can either shape the pastry into one/two long logs and put them in the fridge to use later (as I did), or you can start straight away.
  4. Take walnut-sized lumps of pastry and gently squish them in your hands to warm them up. The texture should still be firm but it should mould easily. Gently press each nugget on a non-floured work surface and, pressing still, roll them backwards and forwards, trying to apply an even pressure with your hands. This will create a long snake-like little roll of pastry.
  5. Using a very sharp knife, trim the edges so they are straight, then gently bend the roll to a horseshoe shape. Place on a lined baking tray and proceed with the rest of the pastry.
  6. Before baking these, put them in the fridge to firm up for at least 1 hour (and up to overnight). Were you to try and bake them straight away, they would melt.
  7. Towards the end of the chilling time, pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, but keep an eye on them as they burn easily. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before proceeding. In the meantime, melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water, then set aside to cool slightly.
  9. When you are ready, take a horseshoe biscuit and dip the extremities in chocolate, then let the excess one drip off the biscuit before placing it back on the baking parchment. Leave to cool until hardened.

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