Recipe: 3 Shortbread Variations for the Holidays

Jump into the Holiday spirit with these 3 creative shortbread cookie recipes.

By Cinda Cavich.



 Mom’s Classic Scottish Shortbread

This is my mother’s (and grandmother’s) recipe for shortbread — small squares or short fingers that should snap, then crumble and melt in your mouth. The trick is to handle the mixture as minimally as possible. Warm hands or rolling can take your cookies from tender to tough, she says. You could use an electric mixer, but my mom is old school — everything is made by hand. This is exactly how she does it.

• 1 pound butter (soft, at room temperature)

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

Get out a large bowl and a wooden spoon.

Place the soft butter in the bowl, and “cream it really well,” using the wooden spoon. Gradually work in the sugar. Then gradually add the flour, beating by hand until
“it’s coming away from
the sides of the bowl.”

My mother says you must “get at least 4 1/2  cups of flour into the dough,” but add more
flour if you can. The dough should be crumbly.

Dump the dough onto your work surface (onto a piece of parchment paper if you like) and “work it into a thick square” using a big knife. “You can’t touch it with your hands,” she says.

When you have a flat, even square, about 3/4–inch thick, cut into small squares or stubby rectangles, about 1 inch square or slightly larger. Using a knife, lift the cookies onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and arrange close together, about 1/2 inch apart. (This helps to prevent spreading. You may have to cut the cookies apart at the base when they’re done.) Poke each cookie with a fork.

Bake at 325˚F for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cookies are firm and barely golden on the bottom. They should not be brown — pale with just a tinge of gold on the top edges.

Remove from the oven, cool partially then slide onto a rack to cool for at least 3 hours (shortbread improves in texture as it cools). Store in a cookie tin.

Makes about 60 pieces.

Orange Chocolate Shortbread

This dark, chocolate cookie may be pressed into a round before baking, then cut into wedges (like the classic Petticoat Tails of old), or baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan.

• 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 2 tbsp finely grated orange rind

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the orange rind. Slowly add the flour, beating to combine. Then drizzle in the warm chocolate and mix well.

Line your pan with parchment and press the dough into the pan. If using a round pan, choose a 10-inch springform, line with parchment and smooth the dough into the pan. You can then release the sides and slide the round onto a baking sheet, scoring it into thin wedges and decorating with a fork or wooden skewer before baking.

Bake at 300˚F for 40 to 45 minutes, until firm, then transfer to a rack to cool. If using a rectangular baking pan, cut the cookies into bars while still warm.

Makes 16 shortbread.

Breton Shortbread

Chris Klassen, sous chef at The Courtney Room, says he learned to make this shortbread while working with a Scottish pastry chef in London, and passed on the inspiration to his pastry chef Yuka Watts. Breton Shortbread features the most important ingredients from that region, butter and sea salt, in this very short cookie, showcasing quality cultured butter.

• 2/3 cup butter (high butterfat, cultured butter like Churn84 or Golden Ears),
at room temperature

• 1 teaspoon Maldon salt

• 1 cup + 7/8 cup all-purpose flour

• 4 egg yolks

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 1 egg for egg wash (whisk with fork with 1 tbsp of water)

With an electric mixer, cream butter and salt on low speed until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add yolks and sugar to butter, scrape down bowl and mix until just combined.

Stir together dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix.

Flatten dough, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Roll cold dough out between 2 pieces of parchment paper, to about 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick.

Re-chill dough in refrigerator, cut dough into circles, rectangles or other shapes. At this stage, you can now freeze the cookies and bake from frozen as needed.

To bake, move cookies to a parchment-lined tray and score with the tines of a fork.

Brush lightly with egg wash and bake from frozen at 350˚F until golden (about 30 minutes in total).

NOTE: Restaurant chefs use a convection oven — time and temperature may vary for home ovens.

This article is from the November/December 2018 issue of YAM.