In keeping with the holiday spirit, I am baking sweets traditionally associated with this time of the year. Shortbread is an iconic biscuit (as they say in the UK for cookie) commonly associated with Christmastime.
The cookie was “invented” in Scotland all the way back in the 12th century. It was often twice baked until it hardened into a rusk, then dusted with sugar and spices. But the biscuit became more popular during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots during the 16th century, when it was often baked for family celebrations and holidays like Christmas.
The term shortbread comes from the fat or shortening used in the recipe–in this instance butter (and lots of it!) and the short crumb or crumbly consistency on the biscuit.
Most traditional recipes call for the dough to be pressed into the pan, pricked with fork tines and cut into wedges or rectangular biscuits after baking. I follow a recipe that is more like a drop cookie. And I like to change it up a bit and add some additional richness to the already rich dough.
Shortbread is a 1-2-3 cookie; one part sugar (this can be a combination of granulated sugar and icing sugar), two parts butter and three parts flour. My recipe also calls for cornstarch, which is supposed to soften the proteins in the flour. As such, the texture of my shortbread cookies is so crumbly, the cookie practically melts in your mouth.
Shortbread diehards would probably object to the use of cornstarch in the recipe, but I have had great success with this recipe so I’m not going to mess with it.
I like to add chocolate to my recipe so I take a Toblerone bar, which has delicious milk chocolate and nougat in it, and chop it up into small chunks before adding it into the dough.
I use a small 1/2 inch cookie scoop to form balls and bake them for approximately 15 minutes.
There should be NO browning on the cookie. If it browns, it’s been in the oven too long.
Shortbreads are subtly sweet and deeply rich. They are a perfect companion to a cup of tea or a hot toddy. And they most certainly make a great addition to your dessert table–or even a great gift at the holidays.
Shortbread Cookies with Toblerone Chunks
- 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
- 1 Cup Icing Sugar
- 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Cup Cornstarch
- 1 Tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 Toblerone chocolate bar, chopped into small chunks
Beat the butter, icing sugar, flour and cornstarch until fluffy. add splash of vanilla and combine. Sprinkle chocolate chunks into batter and mix until just combined. Spoon onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees–make sure the cookies do not brown! The cookies will still be soft when you remove them from the oven. Place them on a rack to cook.