One of my fondest memories as a child was discovering shortbread with my sister at a neighbourhood bakery. Growing up in a Chinese family, we were familiar with egg tarts and pineapple buns, but anything like Rice Krispie squares or Beaver Tails were out of the question. So we educated ourselves through lunchbox trades, after-school play dates and many more trips to the neighbourhood bakery.
Rich, melting and buttery, shortbread is still one of my sister’s favourites. So each year around the holidays, she bakes an array of cookies, like black sesame and chocolate swirl, based off of one master recipe, which she was kind enough to share!
I’ve created three of my own variations, but the master recipe can be baked as is for a deliciously classic shortbread.
1 1/2 cups (375 grams) butter
1 cup (130 grams) icing sugar
1 cup (140 grams) cornstarch
2 cups (270 grams) all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 vanilla beans, scraped of its seeds
1. In a stand mixer, combine everything but the flour and mix on low speed until everything is well incorporated.
2. Add the flour slowly and mix on low speed, being sure to scrape the sides of the bowl halfway through.
1. Coffee Walnut Shortbread Bars
1. Add 2 Tbsp of ground coffee with the flour.
2. At the very end, add 1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts.
3. Mix to combine and bake in an 8” x 8” baking pan.
4. Bake until edges are a medium golden brown.
2. White Chocolate Passionfruit Sandwiches
1. Add the zest of 1 lemon along with the butter when making the dough.
2. Using a small cookie scoop, portion the dough into rounds directly onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Each cookie should be about 1 Tbsp of dough.
3. Bake at 325°F for 18-22 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.
4. Allow the cookies to cool and pipe or spread White Chocolate Passionfruit filling between two cookies (recipe below).
White Chocolate Passionfruit Filling
This filling is a thick ganache-like filling. It would be great as the base in tarts as well.
420 grams (about 3 cups) of white chocolate, chopped
50 grams butter
Zest of 1 lemon
¾ cup (170 grams) passionfruit purée
1 Tbsp of lemon juice
1. Melt chocolate over a double boiler or Bain Marie.
2. Take off the heat and using a spoon, add butter and mix well until shiny.
3. Slowly add the juices and mix well until smooth.
4. Cover and refrigerate until thick. Mix again prior to filling.
3. Matcha Shortbread Leaves
1. Add 1 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp of matcha powder.
2. Roll the very soft dough between two sheets of parchment until it is about 1/4-inch thick.
3. Place the parchment and dough on a sheet pan and freeze until stiff.
4. Using a leaf cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes and place on a parchment lined sheet pan 2 inches apart. (If you want to create leaf vein patterns on your cookies, score them with a small knife halfway through baking)
5. Bake at 325°F for 15-18 minutes or until edges are slightly darker.