Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Taste of Europe - Shortbread

If you've read my blog much, you might have noticed that we sometimes take what we've learned in school, especially social studies, into the kitchen. This school year should provide us with lots of opportunities to do that as Kennady studies the cultural geography of Europe. I'm personally looking forward to enjoying some breads, desserts, and the occasional main dish for dinner inspired by the countries and cultures we are learning about. We've already had a few tastes of Europe, but it's taken me awhile to get organized (haha - as organized as I'll get, anyway, which isn't much!) to share some of those here.

The first area we studied was the British Isles, and that was a great place to start as far as sampling some foods, because so many are already familiar to us. With the holidays soon upon us, I decided to start my "A Taste of Europe" series with a couple of our favorite recipes for a cookie that is immediately associated with Scotland and England - shortbread. It's generally agreed that shortbread originated in Scotland, and the Scottish version is best known, although it is just as popular throughout the rest of the United Kingdom. The name comes from the crumbly texture - this was an older meaning of the word "short". Shortbread is traditionally made into one of three shapes - a large circle, cut into wedges; individual rounds; or a thick slab cut into squares or fingers. In medieval times, biscuit bread was twice-baked and dusted with sugar and spices. Eventually the yeast in the original recipe was replaced by butter. In former times, shortbread was expensive and saved as a special treat for Christmas, Hogmanay, or special occasions such as weddings.
Great Britain
Nowadays, there are lots of variations on the traditional recipe, but shortbread remains a popular cookie, and can be counted on to make its appearance on dessert trays during the holidays.

This variation is my personal favorite recipe.
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Chocolate Chip Shortbread recipe
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
2 cups butter, softened (not margarine!)
2 cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 package (12 oz) semisweet or dark chocolate chips

 Cream butter and sugar, then blend in vanilla and salt. Gradually stir in flour until well blended. The dough will be quite stiff. Then mix in chocolate chips. Pinch off dough and shape into 1-inch balls, placing on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake 15 minutes or until light golden in a 350*F oven. Remove from cookie sheet while still warm and cool on wire rack. If you like, you can sprinkle with additional confectioner's sugar.  (This recipe makes about 90 cookies)

I also like this version, which isn't particularly sweet.
Scottish Shortbread
 Scottish Shortbread recipe
Scottish Shortbread
1 cup butter, softened (not margarine!)
1/2 cup confectioner's (icing) sugar
2 cups flour

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, working with a pastry cutter until mealy. Then use your hands to continue working until it forms a ball like pie pastry dough. Press flat into an ungreased 9x9 pan. Prick all over with a fork through to the bottom. Bake at 300*F for 50-60 minutes,  until set and a pale golden color. Cut into 36 squares while still warm.

Related posts: U is for United Kingdom

This post is linked at Try a New Recipe Tuesday, hosted by Lisa at Home to 4 Kiddos

This post was added to the Throwback Thursday Blog-Style link-up hosted by Tots and Me... Growing Up Together! on November 5, 2015.

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kewkew said...

Oooo, yummy, shortbread.
Growing up I don't remember any traditional shortbread, but my mom always bought those Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. With all the traditional things my mom used to make during the holidays,I am surprised this wasn't one of them (she is from England). She made fruitcake, mince pies, sausage rolls that I remember. Not sure if those are traditional English or not.
Anyhow, a while back I made some shortbread as gifts. It was quite tasty. Never though of adding chocolate chips. Yummy.
Thanks for sharing on Throwback Thursday Blog-Style. Glad you could stop by. Have a great evening.

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