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Shortbread for Mother's Day

Apr 29, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose


Many years ago, I fell in love with shortbread cookies and decided to sell them. My stepdaughter Beth, who has great artistic talent, and is now an architect, made this sign which I put up in the basement of our apartment house. I only ever got one order. I brought a sample to Georgia DeLucca of Dean & Delucca and his verdict was: "Did you ever try Danish Lurpack butter? It needs salt." I strongly disagreed. Loving salt though I do, this one cookie, which has only butter, sugar, and flour, is the soul of purity and needs nothing more. (I did manage to suspend disbelief and tried the Lurpack butter, but even one grain of salt stood out in an unpleasant way.

Thus ended my career as a cookie baking saleswoman and I went on to write The Cake Bible, and then Rose's Christmas Cookies, in which this recipe resides.

I tried many different types of flours and sugars including part rice flour, which adds crispness, but bleached all-purpose flour is my favorite for this cookie.

Scottish Shortbread Cookies

Makes: 4 dozen 1-1/2 inch cookies

Equipment: cookie sheets, no preparation needed

unsalted butter: 284 grams/10 ounces
powdered sugar: 28 grams/1/4 cup lightly spooned into cup and leveled off
granulated sugar: 50 grams: 1/4 cup
bleached all-purpose flour: 362 grams/3 cups, lightly spooned into cup and leveled off

Cut the butter into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. Wrap it, and refrigerate.

In a food processor, process the sugars for about 1 minute until the sugar is very fine. Add the butter and pulse until the sugar disappears. Add the flour and pulse until there are a lot of moist, crumbly little pieces and no dry flour particles remain.

Empty the mixture into a plastic bag and press it together. Remove the dough and knead it lightly until it holds together.

Set 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 275°F/135°C.

Measure 2 level teaspoons or 1 scant tablespoon of the dough and knead each piece by flattening it between your palms and then rolling it into a 1 inch ball.

Place each ball on the cookie sheets, flattening it with a cookie press, fork, or the bottom a tumbler, lightly moistened with water. Work with one ball at a time, right after rolling it, so that it does not crack around the edges. Leave about 1 inch between the flattened cookies.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until pale golden (do not brown). For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking period.
Use a small angled metal spatula or pancake turner to transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.


Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Catherine Dilworth
05/ 3/2017 01:22 PM

Catherine--i can just imagine how beautiful it is! so glad you have the earthenware shortbread mold. recently i tried making wedges in the cake pan that always worked and it wouldn't unmold! now i'd recommend using parchment if using a cake pan.


Catherine Dilworth
Catherine Dilworth
05/ 1/2017 08:26 PM

I've been using your shortbread recipe since I bought your "Rose's Christmas Cookies" years ago. It is so good that I never felt the need to search further for another shortbread recipe. They are perfect! I use a earthenware shortbread mold that has shamrock impressions. The shamrocks are all 3 leaf clovers but there is one that has four leaves. I paint that one with edible gold, the rest are painted green. Those pretty wedge-shape cookies make a great gift.


Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Carlos
04/30/2017 01:48 PM

thank you both! Carlos, how lovely of you to write this. Rachel, i'm so glad you asked for the recipe which gave me the opportunity to revisit and share the full story behind it!


Thank you so much for posting this. My mother-in-law will be thrilled!!


Rose, what heartwarming article! I sometimes feel like the sense of community that buying cookies from a neighbor brings is such a tragic loss to our culture here in America.

Oh, what I wouldn't pay for Scottish Shortbread baked by you! Thank you for continuing to bless us with your memories and thoughts. You are one of the only chefs that I can feel with me in the kitchen when I bake, and I think it's because I feel like I've gotten to know you through these articles. My favorite will always be the story of your brother's wedding cake :)



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