Kim Joy’s Lemon Marbled Shortbread Pebbles

Courtesy of The Guardian
Makes: 15-20
Prep time: 25 mins, plus 20 mins chill time
Bake time: 15-30 mins

These colourful, melt-in-the-mouth biscuits are quick and simple to make. Put a little thought into the packaging and they become a brilliant gift.


For the shortbread:
200g salted butter
60g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Grated zest of 1 ½ lemons
270g plain flour
Gel food dyes (orange, pink, blue and yellow)
For the royal icing:
110g icing sugar
20g egg white
Black gel food dye


  1. Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and cream until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and whisk again until combined. Add the flour, then use your hands to combine the mixture into a smooth ball.
  2. Divide the mixture among five bowls. Leave one uncoloured and use the food dyes to colour the others orange, pink, blue and yellow. Use a spoon to mix in the colour, but avoid overmixing. It is better to leave some swirls of uneven colour than to overmix – the more you handle the dough, the tougher it will be.
  3. Use your hands to combine different coloured doughs into biscuit shapes that are narrower at the top than the bottom. Create a variety of sizes and arrange them on parchment on a baking tray. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F. Use 130°C for a convection oven.
  5. When the biscuits have chilled, bake them for 15 to 30 minutes. The smaller biscuits will bake faster and need to be taken out sooner than the larger ones. When ready, they will be slightly soft on top, but will hold their shape. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, where they will firm up completely.
  6. While the biscuits are baking, make the royal icing. Whisk together the icing sugar and egg white, then add black food dye to colour. Transfer to a piping bag and cut the tip to make a small nozzle. Use this to pipe little faces on all the biscuits.