All Butter Scottish Shortbread

These cookies are a staple in our house! When we were still living in Scotland before Mr Fab Food’s papers came through for him to live in Canada, one of our favourite biscuits was a house brand from Tesco (a grocery store chain found all over the UK) – Tesco’s Finest Chocolate Chip shortbread.  We can’t get them here in Canada, they’re hard to ship and have arrive intact and we don’t get over there/have family come here more than once every few years.  So, creating our own version was a must!  It’s taken me years to perfect them to be “the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth” according to one friend and “what I imagine Heaven tastes like” according to another.  And this year, so good that folks were placing orders for delivery and pick-up so they could have them at their own home for the holidays!

The basic recipe is from one of my most treasured cookbooks – Maw Broon’s Cookbook – from my Scottish besties the year I lived there and met Mr Fab Food.  Over the years I have played with the recipe to get the most perfect texture and sweetness so that the cookies melt in your mouth, aren’t too sweet and are definitely “moreish” as the Scottish would say.  The ingredients couldn’t be any simpler, but my notes in the bottom give a few tips to make them the most requested cookie at your house too!

prep

15 minutes

Bake time

35 minutes

makes

40 cookies

Ingredients

  • 500g unsalted butter, room temperature, divided 
  • 175 g caster sugar (see notes on this one)
  • 600g unbleached organic AP flour, sieved (see notes on this)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Place 375g of the softened butter in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Melt the remaining 125g and pour over top.
  3. Whip butter using stand mixer, a hand mixer or by hand (this is where having the mixer can come in handy!)
  4. Add the sugar and continue to whip until smooth and creamy.
  5. Mix in flour until the dough is soft and slightly shiny (so you know the flour is completely incorporated in the dough)
  6. Remove from mixer.  At this stage you can add other ingredients for texture and flavour – some faves here are dark chocolate chips, white chocolate & cranberry or toffee bits & chopped nuts.
  7. Fold in any desired add-ins without over stirring.
  8. Scoop dough into 2tsp balls.  Roll into a ball and place on a lined baking sheet.  Press down slightly with fingers or the back of a spoon to flatten.
  9. Bake in pre-heated oven for 32-38 minutes depending on your oven.  When cookies are slightly browned at the edges they are done.
  10. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. These cookies freeze well and make great gifts!

Notes

  1. Depending on where you live in the world, caster sugar has a number of names – powdered sugar (not to be confused with icing sugar which is completely different!), quick dissolving sugar or fruit sugar.  And, the reality is, if you’re trying to cut out refined sugar you don’t need any of them!  You can use organic cane sugar or coconut palm sugar in this recipe (I haven’t used caster sugar in 2+ years!!) by blasting your preferred sugar in a coffee grinder until it reaches the soft, powdery consistency you need for these cookies!  The sugar itself isn’t as important as the TEXTURE!  The quick-dissolve is what insures it combines well with the butter and will give you the buttery, flaky cookies you want, rather than the grainier texture you’d get from using granulated sugar.
  2. Melting 125g of the butter has been a game changer for the final texture of these cookies!  “Secret” recipes handed down suggest that hand-kneading the dough is what is key!  The warmth of your hands will help texturize the dough.  That’s fine when you’re baking for friends and family, but when I am giving these away to teachers and neighbours or selling them, we don’t always want to be handling the dough too much!
  3. The final key for soft, buttery, flaky dough is the part in the instructions that says to sieve the flour!  Even AP flour that has likely been sifted before bagging will settle depending on where and how you store it.  That extra step of sieving your flour will break up any lumps or compaction and give it the fluffiest texture!