Scottish Shortbread Biscuits
Although I now find myself more than 5,000 miles from my second home in Scotland, I was determined to bring a wee bit of Alba to southern California this past week in celebration of St. Andrew’s Day (November 30). But wouldn’t you know, it’s bloody difficult to find traditional Scottish fare in San Diego! Where is the haggis (sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal and spices, encased in the animal’s stomach)? The neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes)? The black pudding (blood sausage)? The bagpipes, the ceilidhs, the kilts?!
I would not be deterred! While I contemplated a number of homemade options – sticky toffee pudding? cullen skink? cock-a-leekie soup? – I decided all-butter shortbread biscuits were the way to go. After all, when is all-butter ANYTHING not the way to go? This recipe is simple, requires very few ingredients, and produces approximately two dozen delicious shortbread fingers. I consider myself somewhat of a shortbread aficionado (in other words, I eat A LOT), and these are every bit as tasty as Scotland’s best variety, Walker’s. They are particularly nice with coffee or tea, although not as an everyday snack – did I mention they’re made almost entirely of butter?
SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD BISCUITS
Makes: approximtely 2 dozen cookies
3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup finely granulated white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and use a toothpick to poke decorative holes. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature before eating.