Scottish shortbread is one of my favorite cookies, which is super bizarre because I am a card-carrying member of the Soft Cookie Club. But for some reason, Scottish shortbread makes me forget all soft cookies in favor of shortbread’s buttery sweetness. Top it with strawberry jam or lemon curd and I may just choose shortbread over scones (shocking, I know, but it’s a distinct possibility).
problem best part about this British cookie is the tradition behind it. Quick history lesson? Scottish shortbread is believed to have come from the medieval “biscuit bread”. Leftover bread dough was left out in a low oven to be twice-baked and covered in sugar and spices. Eventually the biscuit bread’s yeast was replaced by butter and supposedly Scottish shortbread is born.
Mary, Queen of Scots was apparently quite the shortbread fan, and shortbread was considered such a luxury that in some areas of Scotland it was tradition to crumble a piece of shortbread over a bride’s head. Maybe they hoped it would help her become an excellent baker?
Authentic Scottish shortbread recipes, like verifiably authentic, seem surprisingly hard to come by because the family recipes for shortbread are guarded as closely as my mom’s secret ingredient in her chocolate chip cookies. I’ve spent years trying to get my hands on one, and I am happy to say that a dear friend of mine just happens to be Scottish and was willing to beg his mother for her shortbread recipe on my behalf. Finally! And it’s delicious. Everything you want in Scottish shortbread is in this cookie. But here comes the snafu. It’s his grandmother’s recipe, so I can’t share it. I have to keep yet another cookie secret.
So why am I bringing up shortbread if I can’t share my newfound recipe? And doesn’t the title of this post say shortbread? You’re smart cookies (no pun intended…okay pun totally intended). Instead of giving up a hallowed recipe, I decided to just teach you how to tweak any shortbread recipe you possess and make it…PUMPKIN SPICE! I told you I was obsessed with all things pumpkin. I made the pumpkin spice version for a different friend’s birthday, and she is still requesting it a month later! Switching up your existing recipe to pumpkin spice-ify it is simple, but the result is a unique twist on the Scottish shortbread cookie that Mary, Queen of Scots would have been proud of.
pumpkin spice shortbread steps
1. Take your go-to shortbread recipe.
2. Swap half the white sugar for light brown sugar (this also makes the shortbread a little more moist)
3. Add 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice to the flour.
4. Top with orange sprinkles before putting shortbread into the oven.
Okay maybe the sprinkles are optional, but they are festive. And I told you making pumpkin spice shortbread was easy! So go on and make your friends and family very happy with a delivery of these amazing cookies. I wouldn’t turn down some Scottish breakfast tea alongside it 😉
Special thanks to Graeme and his mum and grandmother for my addictive shortbread recipe!