Most people are probably familiar with Scottish shortbread cookies from the tartan/plaid boxes that fill the shelves in duty free next to the chocolate. But believe me, there is a big difference between that and proper shortbread, as I was brought up with. As a child, I think shortbread was probably one of the first things I helped my mum make after I got past the stirring phase and I certainly plan on getting my son to help cut it up and lay on trays in due course. Hopefully he will be a bit better at not eating too much of the raw dough as I liked to do,if I’m completely honest, but shortbread is pretty irresistible. This twist of cranberry jam filled shortbread cookies don’t exactly fit the description of healthy, but they are so good.
Shortbread: a New Year tradition
We would always as a minimum make shortbread for new year as it was one of the traditional things to “first foot” with (first footing is the tradition of visiting friends, family and neighbors early on new years day, being the “first foot” in the door in the new year, bringing gifts and, hopefully, good luck for the year ahead). It never lasted long and a new batch always went fast.
It is one of the simplest cookies to make but there are a couple things to watch for. Don’t stir the mixture too much or the texture can be too heavy, and keep an eye on them as they cook as it doesn’t take long and the texture is best when they are gently golden. If they are too brown, they will be more brittle – more like the tartan packaged stuff- and lose the melt in your mouth smoothness that makes them so good. The way we always made them was to simply roll it out relatively thin and cut into squares or rectangles rather than use a mold.
I decided to try a slight take on what I had always made be putting two squares together with a bit of cranberry jam/preserve in between – in honor of my new home these days, Massachusetts – and it was fantastic, if I do say so myself. A sweet fruity gooeyness in between the smooth butteriness. It is a little more fiddly, and especially on first rolling out they can crack a bit, so you are forgiven if you want to skip the filling and just try the plain shortbread, it’s still a good choice. But the filling is worth the effort, I promise. Put it this way, given the choice my husband will go for the filled version now any day.
I found the easiest way to get the two pieces of shortbread cookie to join smoothly and not crack too much was to use the side of a knife. If it cracks a little, don’t worry, you can smooth it over, just try not to have cracks right through or the filling will leak when baking.
Watch this short video to see how it’s made:
I’ve made this a couple of ways – first using the leftover from making cranberry cordial, and then with leftover cranberry sauce. I’d say the cordial leftovers was slightly better since it’s thicker, but both were delicious. I suspect a good jam/preserve of another berry would also be good too such as blackberry or strawberry.
I love my traditional shortbread, but these cranberry jam filled shortbread cookies are truly a delight as well. The combination of meltingly soft and crumbly cookie with the slightly chewy filling is one you’ll be drawn back to – it’s worth the tiny little bit more effort.
Delicious, buttery shortbread with a slightly sticky fruity filling. So good!
- 4 oz unsalted butter 110g, 1 stick, brought to room temperature and cut into cubes
- 2 oz sugar 55g, 1/4 cup, suggest light brown and any relatively fine is good
- 4 oz all purpose flour 110g, 1/2 cup, plain flour
- 2 oz cornstarch 55g, 1/4 cup cornflour
- 6 tsp cranberry sauce approx, or other fruit jam
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Cream the butter and sugar - can use hand blender or a 'proper' mixer, both will work.
Add flour and corn starch/cornflour and mix together but be careful not to overmix.
Roll out mixture on a surface floured with a little corn starch to around 1/4 inch/3-4mm thick. Don't worry that it will probably crack,just put to one side and add to leftovers after cutting.
Cut into squares or rectangles around 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inch/3 - 4cm across. Press together the leftover pieces, roll out again and cut more squares/rectangles until all of the mixture is used up.
Spoon a little jam on top of one square/rectangle - around 1/2 tsp for the suggested size - and put another square/rectangle on top and press edges together. It's easiest to do this by gently pressing with the side of a knife (see picture above).
Place shortbread on a baking tray and bake for approx 10 minutes until lightly golden.
Remove onto a cooling rack while still warm, or at least ensure loosened on tray. You can sprinkle with sugar while still warm if you like.
Try these other tasty shortbread variations: