Requires: Food processor (alternatively, use electric beaters), 3 shallow baking trays and 8cm star shaped biscuit cutter, 2A (or other flat rimmed) piping tip, ribbon – approximately 2 metres long
Preheat the oven to 180°C conventional oven (350° Fahrenheit/Gas 4). Adjust metal racks to the middle groove of the oven. Prepare 3 silicone baking mats on a work surface (alternatively, use 3 sheets of non-stick baking paper). Set aside 3 baking trays the same size as the silicone baking mats (or baking paper).
Using a food processor or electric mixer, beat the butter, castor sugar, eggs, vanilla bean and a pinch of salt until combined. Transfer the butter and sugar mixture to a large bowl. Set aside 30g of the flour. Stir 400g of the remaining flour into the mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon until just combined. As the dough forms, you will need to use your hands. Transfer to a clean work bench and knead until smooth.
Note: 00 is a powder-fine Italian type of flour. It is made from soft wheat varieties, and is frequently used in Italian desserts and pastas. 00 flour is available in most supermarkets, Italian food stores and gourmet delicatessens.
Divide the dough into 2 portions. 1 portion will make vanilla shortbread biscuits and the other portion cacao shortbread biscuit.
For the vanilla shortbread biscuit dough, add the remaining 00 flour (30g) and the lemon zest. Knead until well combined and smooth.
For the cacao shortbread biscuit dough, add the unsweetened cocoa powder (cacao magro). Knead until well combined and smooth.
Cover both biscuit doughs with separate sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate for minimum 30 minutes.
Remove the vanilla shortbread dough from the fridge. Roll the dough on a silicone baking mat (or on non-stick baking paper) to a thickness of 1cm. Use a 8cm star shaped biscuit cutter to cut star biscuits approximately 2cm apart. Use a 2A (or other flat rimmed) piping tip to cut a small circle in the middle of each biscuit. Re-roll the scraps of the dough and repeat with the remaining dough to make 14 biscuits. Remove the cocoa shortbread dough from the fridge. Repeat the process using the cacao dough to make an additional 14 biscuits.
Tip: If cooking this recipe on a warm day, refrigerate the star shaped biscuits for a further 10 minutes before baking.
Bake, one tray at a time in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until just golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once completely cooled, thread the ribbon through the star biscuits, allowing excess to make a bow. Tie the bow to complete your Christmas star biscuit wreath – buon appetito.
Tip: You can prepare the Christmas star biscuit wreath up to 1-2 weeks in advance and store in an airtight container.