Christmas advent calendars and cranberry chocolate pistachio shortbread

It has become apparent to me recently why ‘child friendly Advent calendars’ were invented. It was to assist parent conversations with time conscious, anxious seven year olds. In a Christmas nutshell; it was to avoid the parent in question, doing their nut and rocking in a corner with their thumb tucked safely in their mouth.

Kid 2, in his hyper awareness of the universe and it’s going ons, likes to know exactly what we are doing and when, what time it is, how many days until…..I mean it folks. He wants to know the answer to these questions, more than once a day.

Kid 2, to me, for the zillionth third time: ‘Mum, how many more days until Christmas?’
Me: (Imagine a sweet mummy voice here full of patience and infinite love.) ‘I don’t know darling, go and count the days on the Advent calendar.’

It is because of this calendar that, when faced with a constant barrage of Christmas time questions, I can present a patient, non-yelling like a deranged banshee parental face. This mummy can now rest safely at night, knowing that the authorities will not be knocking on the door anytime soon.

I blathered on about what shortbread means to me last year. In short, Christmas is shortbread and shortbread is Christmas. Up to today, this Cheergerm has baked good old fashioned shortbread, gluten free shortbread and chocolate ginger shortbread. (Hmm, I see a pattern.) Now I present to you a very grown up chocolate, pistachio and cranberry shortbread.

The buttery goodness of this biscuit mixed with tart berries, rich dark chocolate and a nutty crunch, is a festive delight and a wonderful Christmas edible gift. To top it off, this recipe can easily be made gluten free or not. The flour is a straight swap, just make sure you use a good quality gluten free flour blend.

It’s not so bad being a grown up if you get to eat biscuits such as these. Even if you do get asked the time and date more than one very human being ever should be.


250g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 3/4 cups of gluten free plain flour or regular plain flour (I use a good quality gluten free flour such as White Wings.)
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup lightly toasted pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180C.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and sift the flours together into a bowl.
Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually (I used a mixer), beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Work in the flour gradually until the mixture is just combined.
Add the pistachios, cranberries and chocolate and knead lightly to bring together to a dough. (I do this in the bowl.) Knead a little longer for a regular version.
Divide the dough in half, roll each half out to a 3-4 cm log. Wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for half an hour to an hour.
Slice the logs into 1-2 cm thickness, depending on your fancy, place 10mm apart on a baking tray and prick each piece all over with a fork. This mixture was a bugger to cut due to the chocolate and nuts, so the colder the better. Some shortbread may go out of shape but just form it back into a similar shape using your hands.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and straw-coloured. (Regular shortbread will be quicker to bake, probably only 15-20 minutes.)
Cool down on wire racks.
Makes about 20-25 pieces.

Cooking Notes: When adding the flour to the mixture, I pop a teatowel over the mixer to stop the flour ‘floofling’ (an exact culinary term) all over the joint.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a Margaret Fulton recipe from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook

Old school shortbread:

Gluten free shortbread

Chocolate, ginger and spelt shortbread

54 thoughts on “Christmas advent calendars and cranberry chocolate pistachio shortbread

  1. Timely post Cheery. I made GF shortbread during the week and the texture was blah! We ended up chucking them! I’ll give these a whirl during the week. I use a tea towel for floofle control,too!

    • Hello Mrs R! I have used this ratio of butter to that particular brand of gf flour and rice flour quite a few times now and thus far (I am probably jinxing it now…) it’s been successful. Hope it works for you too, they are a bit more fragile than regular shortbread. Love that you control floofle the same way. 😊

  2. I do love a good shortbread! And, despite the fact that the KID in our house is now an adult, we still have numerous advent calendars – both physical paper ones and electronic. They do help with those pesky questions!

    • Me too KW, especially with a good strong cuppa. They are a blessing indeed those advent calendars. How sweet you still have them despite the grown up sproglets I too cannot image a Christmas household without one now.

  3. Okay, I’ve got this weird, wonky quirk which I absolutely have to discard. I only eat shortbread when I’m in Scotland. Like you, it has a very precise meaning attached to it. It’s not that I’m not tempted to eat it 365 days of the year, but it’s because I’m tempted to eat it 365 days of the year that I hold off. I’ve found that it is the food embodiment of an afternoon in the highlands. Which of course must be followed by haggis and whisky. It all gets shoved in there.
    But now reading your post, I’m weakening. I should at least MAKE shortbread as Christmas gifts to hand out to others, right? Getting weaker …
    I miss those squishable days of, “How many more days/hours/minutes until?”
    Cheers, Cheergerm.

    • That sweetchops and very squishable excitement does keep the joy in this festive season, I know I too will miss it when it’s gone. That is a pretty fabulous quirk as I never, well rarely, make shortbread the rest of the year. You evoked the idea of Scotland beautifully in that wee paragraph lass. Far be it from me to judge when and where a body chooses to indulge in this wonderul buttery treat. If only in the company of mermaids, in the halls of the Gods, whilst wearing a wooly beanie, then so be it!! Of course, you could make them as gifts but not eat them…..? Hello, hello, are you still there Mrs P?

      • In the company of mermaids–check–although they’d need to be selkies.
        In the halls of the Gods–check–aren’t all men in kilts just that?
        And whilst wearing a wooly beanie–okay, fine. I’ll look like a dufus, but yes, I’d do it. You’ve just made me miss Scotland more.
        And I thought it was IMPLIED that no one in their right mind could make them and give them without eating half the goods.
        Yes, I’ll be a building with feet. But a happy one. I shall try your newest recipe. All the others turn out brilliantly.

      • Oh! I adore Cranachan. And this new recipe might be something I try for Burns Nite in January.
        But no, I’ll not put the gorgeous malt in it, only the sad remnants of a blend someone had the audacity to cross my threshold holding onto and leaving on my counter.
        Can’t account for taste these days.

  4. troppodon

    Assume some of these are on the Christmas eve table?????

    Donald Alexander,LLB (Otago), MA -Communication-Organisational Communication (Charles Sturt), Senior Lecturer, Public Relations and Organisational Communication, Postgraduate Course Coordinator, School of Communication, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst
    02 6338 4031 0405 125 378

    This email has been sent by Charles Sturt University (ABN 83 878 708 551). This email (and any attachment) is confidential and is intended for the use of the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient of this email you must not copy, distribute, take any action in reliance on it or disclose it to anyone. Any confidentiality is not waived or lost by reason of mistaken delivery to you. The views expressed in this email are not necessarily those of Charles Sturt University. It is very important that before opening any attachments to this email you check them for viruses and defects. CSU does not accept liability for any corruption or viruses or any consequence which arise as a result of this email transmission. Email communications with CSU may be subject to automated email filtering, which could result in the delay or deletion of a legitimate email before it is read by its intended recipient at CSU. Please tell us if you have concerns about this automatic filtering. The Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) Provider Number is 00005F (NSW), 025973E (QLD), and 01947G (VIC) for Charles Sturt University.

    • They are indeed decadent Mrs I! (Those darned pistachios aren’t the cheapest..he he…) I am about to make an old school batch now too, the shortbread production line continues.

    • Yes, now we are all on the same Christmas page and confusion will be avoided. 😁 I would be chuffed if you gave it a whirl Shirl. It’s very festive it is. Cheers Mr Food!!

    • Thank Ms Cake! I sure am….tis the season to wear Christmas Pants!!! Yeah!! (I am in denial of the bather/swimmer wearing two week camping holiday on the northern coast after Christmas….) Kids Lord! Yes but oh how very entertaining, tiring and delightful all at the same time. 😊

  5. oh, swoon. This is the first year in forever that I haven’t done an advent calendar. I had every intention to but… nevermind, making a batch of these fab looking shortbread will compensate πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Mrs H! They really are a great festive gift (or a great festive personal tummy filler upper!) There is always next year for the good ole Advent calendar, or not! Shortbread (like bacon) makes everything ok. 😁

    • Nothing wrong with a bit of rhyme, if you find you have the time. Thanks, they really tasted good my next post is a gluten free pud! (Love a bit of corny rhyme, thanks!) 😁

  6. I was enjoying the cheery tale, identifying and remember and all that, then got to the recipe and my bowels melted with lust wanting the shortbread with all my stomach but knowing it was not meant to be cuz it wasn’t gluten free but tortured myself anyway reading the ingredient list when what to my wondering eyes did I see? Holy Christmas, ’twas GLUTEN free. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And merry Christmas to you. How many sleeps left?

    • Hello! Super glad that you were not left with a sad well of burning disappointment. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you get to make these at some point as they are delicious, i made a batch yesterday and have one more to do today. How many sleeps? I have to go check the advent calendar…he he…Merry Christmas!

  7. I love shortbread !!
    Lots of people when they read food blogs say “I’m going to try that recipe” and of course they never do .
    But, I’m going to try this recipe. (sans chocolate)

  8. Pingback: Illuminating cardamom, cinnamon and brown sugar shortbread | The Cheergerm & the Silly Yak

  9. Pingback: Ginger shortbread for Christmas | The Cheergerm & the Silly Yak

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