Scotland is famous for its shortbread cookies. Once considered a rare treat, these melt-in-your-mouth cookies were eaten around Christmas, or as part of a traditional Scottish New Year celebration.
Not overly sweet, Scottish shortbread makes a pleasant change from the ubiquitous sugary confections that are upon us this season. It’s rumored Queen Victoria liked hers seasoned with extra salt.
Both cookies and dough freeze beautifully, keeping you covered for all your seasonal cookie emergencies. Shortbread cookies make a perfect gift packaged alongside a teacup with tea infuser and English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea or a coffee mug with some gourmet coffee beans.
3-INGREDIENT SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD COOKIES
What You’ll Need:
2 cups (I know! It’s the holidays!) salted butter,* cold and cut into cubes
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
Optional: holiday sprinkles
*If you use unsalted butter, sift ¼ teaspoon salt into flour.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment (recommended) or a large mixing bowl and wooden spoon; mix brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add 3 ½ cups flour, mixing on low and building to medium speed (or using the brute strength of your stalwart arms) until combined. The dough will be sticky! It’s okay. (If you mix by hand you deserve an extra cookie.)
On a marble slab, large board, or big piece of parchment paper; sprinkle ½ cup flour to keep this sticky dough from sticking to everything. Place dough on your working surface of choice and gently knead dough until the half cup of flour has been absorbed. Add additional flour, only as needed, to make a soft, pliable dough. You may not use all, or any, of the remaining ½ cup flour. Don’t overwork the dough. Stop as soon as it feels like playdough, soft but not sticky. Divide dough in half, form into discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Right before you remove dough from refrigerator, preheat oven to 325°F degrees, place rack on lower-middle position. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.
Remove dough from fridge and place back on your lightly-floured working surface. Roll dough to between ¼-and ½-inch uniform thickness. I roll mine between two pieces of parchment. Now you get to choose your shapes. Use holiday cookie cutters or cut into traditional shapes as detailed below. Use a fork to make designs or add holiday sprinkles as desired. Place cookies two inches apart on baking sheets.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Adjust baking time as needed by size of your cookies. Cool on a wire rack before serving. Repeat with remaining dough, keeping dough chilled until ready to use. All that butter gets soft quick. It’s easier to work with when chilled.
Cool on wire rack before serving. Cookies keep for a week, sealed airtight at room temperature.
Traditional shapes for shortbread cookies are rectangles, approximately 1×3 inches, poked with the tines of a fork. Perfect for dunking into your Earl Grey tea. Or triangles made by rolling the dough into 6-inch rounds and cutting like a pizza into six slices. You press the sides of a fork along the outside of the circle to make lines and poke the tines over the remaining surface. These wedges are called “petticoat tails” and are symbolic of the bell-shaped crinolines favored by Mary, Queen of Scots.
When have only three ingredients made so many people so happy? Merry Christmas from all of us at Divas On A Dime!
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org