Andy’s sad because I’m not getting up and catering to his every whim. Sorry, kitty, but if I get up every time you want to get kitty treats, you’ll never eat your prescription chicken pâté kitty food. I noticed you are a little chunky lately, too, not a good thing in an older kitty. Those “puppy dog eyes” (sic) won’t work on me, bub!
I baked a cherry pie for yesterday’s Class of 1966 monthly luncheon. I still have flour and butter I got to make shortbread for the December luncheon. I really need to do it, make that shortbread, before the butter (which is in the freezer) goes bad. If I make it for myself, I know I’ll make a pig of myself on it.
My Scottish grandmother use to make it as a special treat for the family, with one half of it for my Dad since he really, really, really liked her shortbread. After she died, I found her hand-written recipe in a recipe book she had. I tried my hand at making it. It’s a simple recipe, just four, sugar, and butter.
The magic is in how thin or thick you press it into a baking pan, how long you bake it. The slightly burnt, well, “brown” edges are the best part since the sugar is caramelized there, and texture is important, too. Good shortbread is more like a thick pie crust, flakey, a light texture but with a bit of crunch.
Getting the proportions of the three components is important, too. My grandmother’s recipe is a bit heavy on sugar if you don’t convert the pounds into cups more conventionally used in American recipes. My first effort had twice as much sugar as needed! Whew! Bad guess on what a pound of sugar is converted to in cups…!
I adjusted the sugar by half and the result was “…as good as your Grandmother McKenzie’s shortbread”, per my Dad! He was the shortbread connoisseur. His word told me I’d cracked the code, figured out how to make it like a Scottish grandmother! Well, my Scottish Grandmother McKenzie at least. I can’t speak for the whole world of Scottish grandmothers.
Shortbread looks pretty plain, sort of like crust without the pie. If you don’t know what it is, you might skip it when looking at the dessert selections at an event. (Mind you, as someone who knows what it is, I don’t might having to take most of it home! LOL!) A big mistake: good shortbread is made with the best quality butter, never margarine or something with “butter flavor” like commercial “shortbread” often tries to pass off as shortbread, and this simple product bursts with an oven-created brown butter flavor that turns three things into a crunchy delight.
You want to share that with others, but hope they pass when you put it out there among the ooey-gooey chocolate brownies with chocolate chips and chocolate frosting, sugar cookies with heaps of butter cream frosting and sprinkles, pecan pie with twice the recipe’s pecans and chocolate chips-because-why-not?, and the lemon bars made more lemony with the zest and juice of two Meyer lemons. Yeah, shortbread gets lost in that “forest”!
Embellish it with chocolate or pecans or lemon zest, and you get a nice variation, but it seems less authentic to me. My Grandmother McKenzie’s shortbread never had embellishments because it was special made with just the three ingredients.
Yum! I think this weekend will be a good time to make that shortbread! It’s been a few years since I made it last – Dad died in 2008, and his enthusiasm for it was the main reason I made it. I hope I can recreate my success with it because I intend not to share it and the recipe makes a pig-satisfying amount of it. LOL! Maybe – like, sure! – I can keep some out and freeze the rest.