Shortbread is a classic Scottish dessert that consists of three basic ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter. This dessert resulted from medieval biscuit bread, which was a twice baked, enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into a soft and sweetened biscuit called a Rusk. Eventually, yeast from the original Rusk recipe was replaced by butter, which was becoming more of a staple in the British Isles. Despite the fact that shortbread was prepared during much of the 12th century, the refinement of shortbread into the modern recipe we know today was actually accredited to Mary, Queen of Scots, in the 16th century. This type of shortbread was baked, cut into triangular wedges, flavored with caraway seeds. Shortbread was expensive and reserved as a luxury for special occasions such as Christmas and weddings.
You can pretty much flavor your short bread with nuts and spices. I had a shortbread flavored with lavender. I like mine plain with a bit of chocolate.
Software – Shortbread Base
- 12 oz of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Software – Chocolate layer
- 6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Electric stand mixer with paddle attachment
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla and mix until well blended. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure sugar is well incorporated.
Mix on low speed and slowly add flower mixture until the dough starts to come together. Scraping the sides with a spatula ever so often.
Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.
Remove from baking sheet and on to a cooling rack. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don’t trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch.) Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it’s completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
Dip 1/2 of each cookie into melted chocolate, just enough to coat it.
Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to cool the chocolate.