This produces an incredibly buttery and crisp shortbread and the spices and fruit make it ideal for the holiday season. Because this recipe contains no eggs the shortbread is delicate and should be handled carefully. If you don't want to use alcohol replace it with naturally sweet orange juice ,which you can probably get at a juice stall or bar. The orange juice in cartons has added sweeteners, which will make the shortbread too sweet.
Make 12 1.25 inch squares
2.5 cups Maida or all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's or icing sugar
1/4 teapsoon finely ground nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt
225 grams unsalted butter
1 cup mixed Christmas fruit such as golden and dark raisins, glaceed cherries, Turkish apricots, orange peel, Sultanas finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup dark rum or good quality naturally sweet orange juice
I generally take a handful of my Christmas soaked fruit out of the jar but you can soak the fruit of your choice and zest in the dark rum for 2-3 hours. Drain completely. If there is any rum leftover discard it or add it to something else.
Whisk the nutmeg, salt, sugar and butter in a mixing bowl for 15 seconds in a mixing bowl. Stir in remaining flour and mix again until just incorporated- do not over beat this mixture.
Add the soaked fruit and mix well.
Line an 8 by 8 square baking pan with wax or parchment paper. Leave an overhang of parchment paper atleast 3 inches on all sides.
Press the soft and sticky dough into the pan over the parchment paper. Use a rubber spatula to press it down. It should be about 1/2-3/4 inch deep.
Lift the overhanging parchment and cover the top of the dough gently so it is sealed as you would do if you were gift wrapping a present. Do not press down on it. You can weigh it down with a small teaspoon if you need to.
Refrigerate 2-3 hours until it firms up a bit but do not freeze it.
Preheat oven 350F.
Remove the baking pan from the fridge and gently open the parchment from the top.
Using a long, sharp non-serrated knife cut the dough into neat square or rectangles. Your cuts should be deep and clean so that the bars remain separated while baking.
Bake bars in baking pan until golden about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool completely. Divide up the squares and keep in an airtight container.