Every year, around this time, I contemplate the pros and cons of going on a shortbread diet. Pro: Sweet, buttery shortbread is delicious. Con: I will gain 1,000 pounds before even smelling a Christmas turkey. And so, because the cons always outweigh the pros, I haven’t been able to justify the shortbread diet, just yet…
But I love shortbread. As a child, my only real experience with shortbread, was a light, airy, whipped shortbread that my mom could pull together in about 20 minutes from start to sweet, buttery finish: A drop cookie that was always topped with either a red or green “cherry.” You know, the kind often found in fruitcake? Like, who ever heard of an edible green cherry? Doesn’t green mean unripe? Why do they even make them that colour? Frankly, I think it’s gross. And so did my childhood self. I would pick them off and eat around the green or red stain left on the cookie.
And, as far as I knew, this was shortbread. And I didn’t need any other kind. But then, I got older. And expanded my horizons. And I found myself with a Scottish sister-in-law. And my life changed forever. Marriage will do that. But so will the mind-blowing discovery that shortbread is not only a buttery, light-as-air delicacy, whipped into creamy waves by my mother’s Braun mixer, but also a lovely, flaky (and still buttery) cookie pressed into a pie plate. And cut into…wait for it…wedges. This is when I started to contemplate the shortbread diet. Because there are so many options. And so little time. And the Christmas season (aka shortbread season) is always way too short to consume every delectable cookie.
And, of course, I’m a firm believer that if I like something, everyone else will, too. And I’m a sharer. So here are the recipes to my life-changing shortbread cookies.
1 cup butter
½ cup icing sugar
1 ½ cup white flour
Heat oven to 325°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix all ingredients together. Beat with stand mixer or hand mixer for 10 minutes. (The dough will be VERY crumbly initially, but seriously, persevere. You will not be sorry.) Use tablespoon to scoop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Keep an eye on them in the oven; they burn easily. Remove from oven and cool completely on cooling rack. Store in airtight container on the counter for about one week or freeze and eat within three months. Makes approximately three and a half dozen cookies.
These cookies are best eaten the day after baking.
The “Other” (but just as delicious) Shortbread
1 cup butter (softened)
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
Heat oven to 325°F. Line 9-inch circular cake pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Mixture will be crumbly. Press the dough into the parchment-lined cake pan. Score into 16 – 20 wedges. Poke holes on top of the shortbread with a fork. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until cake tester or toothpick stuck into the centre of the shortbread comes out clean.
Jamie Dyck is a gardener, preserver, and lover of food and cocktails.
Follow her on Twitter: @jndyck