On the second day of Christmas cookies: shortbread

I have two extremely fond memories of shortbread cookies.  The weird thing is neither of them involve Christmas or homemade baking.  In my previous life, after an 18 hour flight to Hong Kong I would arrive at my hotel exhausted and hungry.  Every trip I was always pleased to find a package of  Walkers Shortbread cookies in my room’s mini bar.  The Shangri-la  Hotel in Hong Kong after check-in would always bring Jasmine tea in a basket directly to guests rooms.   I would comfortably settle into my new surroundings with my tea and Walkers shortbread.  This became a much looked forward to tradition for me every time I arrived in Hong Kong.

Original Walkers Shop

Original Walkers Shop

Tea Basket

Tea Basket

My second shortbread memory also involves Walkers.  Our family had the good fortune of traveling to Scotland this past summer- the birthplace of both scotch and shortbread.  Our tourist destination one day was a cooperage for barrel making and the famous Glenfiddich  Distillery (my hubby of Scottish descent was so excited!), but on our beautiful winding way we stumbled upon Walkers Head Office and factory outlet. OMG – I was in shortbread heaven!  Needless to say, we loaded up our right-sided steering wheel car with enough Scottish delight for the rest of our Highland adventures.

Beautiful Scotland

Beautiful Scotland

Grenfitch

Glenfiddich Distillery

Walkers Shop

Walkers Shop

I have sampled several homemade shortbread cookies made by friends, myself, or from bakeries, but I have not found one to ever match Walkers for taste.  It is the only boxed cookie I find better tasting than any homemade version. Now that I am in Baking & Pastry school such a bold claim could be grounds for an “F” on my next assignment.  Instead, I was quite pleased to receive a shortbread recipe from our class Chef who assured me it was amazing.  I was doubly excited to discover the below ingredients are identical to those used in making Walkers Shortbread.

Ingredients

18 large cookies (from mould) 6 dozen small cut-out cookies

2 pounds unsalted softened butter

2 pounds 4oz all purpose flour (sifted)

10 1/2 oz icing sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla

Shortbread Ingredients

Shortbread Ingredients

Cream butter and icing sugar on medium speed with hand mixer or stand mixer-until mixed through Butter and Icing Sugar

Sift flour with salt and add to butter mixture

Shifting Flour Sifted Flour

Stir flour into butter mixture with wooden spoon until firm dough stage

Mix in Flour

Separate dough into 2 balls and flatten and wrap with plastic wrap

Flat Dough Ball

Place in fridge until firm- 30min to an hour

Pre-heat oven to 325

I choose to use the dough two way

1) Mould – spray with baking spray and press dough into mould

Shortbread Mould

Bake for 25-30 min until just lightly golden

Baked Shortbread

Baked Shortbread

cut cookies when slightly warm – as easier to cut this way

Cut Shortbread

cool on wire rack

I was not happy with how these turned out so I decided maybe some decorating was needed.

1 cup melted chocolate wafers

1 cup crushed candy-cane (I purchased at the bulk food store)

Ready to Decorate

Ready to Decorate

once cookies are completely cool – melt chocolate wafers in microwave or double boiler

dip the bottom of cookie and lower side with chocolate

immediately dip sides into crushed candy-cane

Chocolate Bottom

Chocolate Bottom

Snowflake Shortbread

Snowflake Shortbread

Finished Shortbread

Finished Shortbread

2) cookie cutter Roll dough on lightly floured(use bread flour) surface

Cookie Cut-out

Cookie Cut-out

Holly Decoration

Holly Decoration

I added candy holly for festive decoration (found at bulk food store) – add PRIOR to baking

bake for 15-18min until bottom of cookie is just slightly golden

Holly Shortbread

Holly Shortbread

Holly Shortbread

Holly Shortbread

Christmas Shortbread

Christmas Shortbread

DSCF7102

Christmas Shortbread

OK here is my honest critique of the Chef’s above shortbread recipe compared to Walkers.  The mould cookies were a huge disappointment. I think the cookies are just too big and thick, so they came out a bit over-cooked on the top and crumbly.  I would not recommend using this recipe if you want to use a shortbread mould.  BUT, the cut-out cookies were amazing with a smooth buttery taste that had the perfect amount of flakiness.  I have to say, these were the closest things yet to Walkers masterfully delicious shortbread cookies.

NOTE: both dough and baked cookies freeze extremely well/ follow past Spritz cookie post for freezing tips

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