I went to a “Cookie Exchange Party” today. It’s such a lovely idea. A group of women take time out from the hustle and bustle of the holiday to chat about life, have some punch, and take home a variety of cookies to share with their families.
I’m always surprised by the myriad kinds of cookies the talented bakers bring to the exchange. When you select a few of every type of cookie, you end up with a plate that looks festive and has something for everyone. But the real “treat” of the event is the time you spend with friends and family, sharing stories, swapping recipes, and making new memories.
So, my gift to you this holiday season is my Aunt May’s Shortbread recipe. The recipe came over with my family from Dundee, Scotland, and the secret ingredient is rice flour. That’s why the treats have that buttery, slightly grainy texture. My aunt wouldn’t give me the recipe until I visited her and she showed me exactly how to make the cookies, but I suspect that was an excuse to have us visit. When you pass this recipe on, you might consider her example, the cookies are always better when you make them together with family or friends.
Aunt May’s Scottish Shortbread
½ pound butter + 3 tablespoons
¾ cup of sugar
1 egg yolk
3 cups flour + 2 tablespoons (sifted)
2 tablespoons rice flour
In a bowl blend butter, sugar and egg into a butterball. Sift together both types of flour. Place some of the flour on the counter and knead the butter ball into it until all the flour is worked into the ball. The heat from your hands blends the ingredients, so continue kneading motion until everything is well blended.
Divide ball in four equal sections. Shape each quarter into a long rectangle about 2 in. wide and a little over ¼ inch thick. Cut into fingers: place on a cookie sheet and prick each cookie several times with a fork. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 – 60 min, or until a light golden color.
Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 months. **Do not make on damp, rainy days. Rice flour should come from an oriental or well-stocked grocery store, not from a health food store. This recipe holds detail well and is perfect for cookie molds.