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Postcard Recipe: Scottish Shortbread

I’ve never been a huge fan of shortbread cookies. Either they didn’t have enough flavor or, to me, they felt overly buttery and not in a good way. Like croissants. Or shortbread cookies were just too heavy after cooling down and I always wanted them to be this light, melt in your mouth cookie no matter when you wanted one.

Then, earlier this year my friend Lulu was in Scottland and sent me a postcard from this set, which in turn came from this book Taking Tea with Mackintosh: The Story of Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms, with a recipe for Scottish Shortbread cookies. I’m all for recipes on postcards so I decided to put it somewhere safe so I could make it the next time I had the time to bake some cookies.

Friends, that safe place? Its a lie. A trap. Don’t put anything in a safe place. I lost that dang postcard and had to try every search I could think of to find that post card (which led me to the book, so hurrah!). Luckily I found the recipe again and was able to make it.

The recipe itself is fairly simple but incorporates semolina flour which I have never seen before in a shortbread recipe. Granted, I don’t look too closely at shortbread recipes because as I mentioned before I’ve never been a fan. But, these cookies have won me over. I’m assuming its the semolina in the mixture that gives it a light, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth flavor that I just haven’t found in other recipes.

It doesn’t take too long to make up a batch of these cookies, since its just flour, semolina, sugar and butter. The most important thing about this recipe, I feel, is that your butter has to be at room temperature. I’m totally guilty of forgetting to take out butter early enough so it’s room temperature by the time I need it, but since it’s the only thing holding the flours and sugar together you want to make sure its easy to combine everything.

The longest part is mixing everything together to form the dough – at first it’ll look like its just going to be a crumbly mess, but keep going! You’ll be rewarded with an awesome dough.  The recipe says to make it into a disk and cut into 8 wedges…well you COULD do that. But then you’d only have 8 pieces. And I’ll eat all 8 pieces without thinking about it. So, I used my little disher to make lots of little cookies. Which are just adorable because they’re little and everything is much more cute when they’re smaller.

I also liked that the disher makes them slightly rounded on top rather than just flat. You could smoosh them down after they come out of the disher but then it takes an extra 30 seconds per cookie dough ball and that adds up quickly. I just want them to get into the oven and then into my mouth. Yum. This way they’re also perfect for an afternoon tea…or a midnight tea if they last that long. They’re really just perfect at anytime. Much like bagel bites. Only better.

Scottish Shortbread

Taking Tea with Mackintosh: The Story of Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms

This recipe serves as a perfect base for any flavored shortbread. I love to mix the zest of a lemon or orange into the mixing bowl before I start combining everything.

200 grams/8 ounces/2 cups flour
50 grams/2 ounces/.5 cup semolina flour
75 grams/4 ounces/ 2/3 cups sugar
150 grams/8 ounces/2 sticks butter

Preheat oven to 325. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment mix everything together until it forms a dough. Once dough is formed use a small disher (#70) or a tablespoon to make uniform balls. Place on parchment and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cookies will not brown much – just the edges!

Allow to cool on cooling rack.

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