Shortbread Cookies With beginnings in Medieval Scotland and England, Shortbread was once a luxury reserved for special occasions, such as weddings and New Year's feasts. It is now perhaps associated primarily with Christmas. But its beginnings were humble. Shortbread originally evolved...

Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread Cookies

With beginnings in Medieval Scotland and England, Shortbread was once a luxury reserved for special occasions, such as weddings and New Year's feasts. It is now perhaps associated primarily with Christmas. But its beginnings were humble. Shortbread originally evolved from a twice-baked bread called, rusk. This was often coated in sugar and spices for a simple treat. Eventually, yeast was replaced with butter, which had become increasingly popular in England at the time, and thus, shortbread was created.

It would, of course, be refined throughout the years, and continues to receive alterations today. Traditionally, shortbread was made up of one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. Though many home bakers now divide the sugar into one part white sugar and one part confectioner's sugar.

While you can mold your dough into whatever form you fancy, shapes generally associated with shortbread are rectangular fingers, rounds, and wedges with fluted edges called, "petticoat tails."

Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies
Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread is a very minimalistic baked treat, requiring no leavener and often employing neither salt nor vanilla. However, if you do desire additional flavors, the following additions can give any shortbread recipe a festive boost for your Christmas Day celebrations:

  • Spices - cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are the most suitable
  • Instant coffee powder or crystals, you can also use 2 tablespoons of strongly brewed, black coffee
  • Vanilla or almond extract
  • A tablespoon of Scotch or rum
  • Festive mix-ins, like chopped nuts, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, or even chocolate shavings
  • Toppings, including caramel, melted chocolate, or frosting
  • Sprinkles, coarse salt, or a dusting of cocoa

It is recommended that you bake your shortbread at a lower temperature than other cookies. This is advised due to the high fat content of shortbread, which can cause browning if exposed to greater levels of heat for even a short duration of time.

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