Thursday, August 18, 2011

Highland Fling Shortbread with Chocolate or Caramel

Category: Cookies and Bars
Difficulty Rating: Medium

The Scots have contributed quite a few things to the welfare of mankind. Penicillin, sheep cloning, Scotch Whiskey, oatmeal, Dr. Livingston, Alexander Graham Bell (of Scottish descent), Morse Code, Sean Connery and...Scots Shortbread.  Highlanders, which are a combination Norse and Scots, tend to be larger folk...and they like to eat! Cock-a-leekie soup is delicious, and oat scones are fabulous. If  you go to the Scottish Games, DO NOT try the haggis. Do, however, find and devour the biggest piece of homemade Scots Shortbread you can find. It is, in my mind, the greatest Scottish contribution to the world. And it tastes a whole lot better than penicillin.

This superb shortbread recipe was found on the back of a shortbread pan box purchased at The Games. I bought the pan partly to get the recipe. It was worth it.


1/2 C butter just at room temperature, not mooshy
1/3 C powdered sugar (unsifted)
1/4 t vanilla
1 C flour (unsifted)

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Butter should be as cold as possible--yet still creamy. Cream in powdered sugar, then vanilla. Now work in flour with clean hands. Knead dough on an un-floured board until nice and smooth. Spray shortbread pan very lightly with non-stick vegetable spray. Firmly press dough into shortbread pan OR roll into a ball, then flatten with the heel of your hand into a round about 1/4 inch thick. Place round on parchment on cookie sheet. Note: Thicker is better than thinner. Thin shortbread breaks easily.

Score round with knife indicating where future triangles will be cut (like cutting a pizza). If you are using a shortbread pan or a 9X13 pan, score squares (see Note 1). Prick the entire surface of the shortbread with a fork--about 6 times or one fork prick per shortbread triangle or square. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until just a hint of tan appears. Let shortbread cool 2 minutes before cutting on score marks with a sharp knife and removing from pan. If you have a square shortbread pan, loosen edges and flip pan gently over to remove after cutting.

Note 1: Many people like to cut their shortbread into stars, bars or circles that look like buttons with two holes in the middle of each circle. Your choice!

Note 2: I prefer my shortbread plain, but if you like chocolate on it, see Options 1 and 2. Option 3 is for caramel lovers--mmmmmm!

Option 1: While shortbread cools, melt 1 T shortening in a double boiler. Add 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips. Melt and combine completely. Dip a fork into the mixture, grabbing a little chocolate on it. Suspend fork over shortbread and "wag" it back and forth. Repeat until squiggles of chocolate are all over the triangles or squares. Your choice: sprinkle on nuts, jimmies, or candy bits before chocolate cools. Or leave plain.

Option 2: Melt chocolate and shortening as in Option 1. Gently take pieces of cooled shortbread off of pan and dip the largest side in the chocolate. Your choice: sprinkle on nuts, jimmies or candy bits before chocolate cools. Or leave plain.

Option 3: Make the following caramel dip for shortbread:


1/2 C dk. brown sugar
1/4 C butter
2 T heavy cream
pinch salt
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 C ground pecans or pistachios


For the caramel, combine brown sugar and butter in med. saucepan and bring mixture to boil. Let cook for 1 minute, then remove pan from heat. Stir in cream, salt and powdered sugar. Dip largest end of cookies or one end of bars in caramel. Immediately roll in ground nuts--pecans or pistachios are best.

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