Aniseed is a flavor hallmark of Italian cooking. Though its taste can be divisive, an excellent way to win over fans would be to present them with a slice of Nigellissima's golden, crumbling, buttery, lightly-sweet aniseed shortbread.
Reprinted with permission by Nigella Lawson. Copyright © 2013. Published by Clarkson Potter Books. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.
- Yield:makes 16 slices
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 9 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons aniseeds
- 1 x 8-inch springform cake pan
Preheat the oven to 325°F, and get out your springform pan. Line the base with parchment paper.
Put the flour, cornstarch, confectioners’ sugar, and butter in a food processor and blitz till combined and just clumping into a pale dough.
Remove the lid, add the aniseeds, then put the lid back on and pulse until the aromatic seeds are well mixed in.
Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and press it out smoothly and patiently until you have an even layer at the bottom of the pan. (Yes, I do know that the aniseeds are indistinguishable from mouse droppings, but I really don’t know what can profitably be said on the matter; so ignore it.)
Put it in the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes, until the shortbread is cooked through, slightly gold at the edges but still pale on top.
Remove to a wire rack, and if you want that familiar dotty-patterned shortbread look, gently use the tines of a fork to dimple the surface straight after it comes out of the oven (taking care—the pan is hot); then leave it in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting into 16 slender wedges, still in its pan. Cool for another 20–30 minutes, before lifting out the base of the pan and gently transferring the shortbread wedges to a wire rack or plate.
Serve cool, or eat as warm as you like.