Millionaire Shortbread

January 6:National Shortbread Day

Around the holidays and Hogmanay, we usually make some type of shortbread as an ode to Highlander’s Scottish heritage. As we wish for a prosperous new year ahead, we make millionaire’s shortbread. Well, this treat breaks any diet resolutions because it is an ultra rich cookie topped with decadent chocolate with a chewy caramel filling and a sweet shortbread crust (similar to a homemade Twix candy bar)!  But this dessert is so delicious that it is worth indulging on millionaire shortbread, especially on National Shortbread Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, cold and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate (1 bar Baker’s brand chocolate)

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour with sugar and salt. Cut in the butter pieces and mix until it resembles coarse peas.

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Press flour mixture into an 8×8 inch square pan lined with foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. In a saucepan, over medium heat, stir the condensed milk with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.

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Keep stirring until it turns into a light caramel color, around 15 minutes. Pour the caramel over the shortbread cookie layer and spread evenly with a spatula. Cool completely.

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In a bowl, melt the chocolate according to the package directions. Pour this over the cooled caramel layer.  Let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

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Chill it in the refrigerator until the chocolate layer is slightly hardened. Using the foil as handles, lift everything out of the pan. Cut off the edges to straighten. Then cut into 16 squares.

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Notes

  • Make this millionaire shortbread on January 25 for a Scottish Burns Supper dessert. 
  • For a quicker recipe, substitute the sweetened condensed milk and 1 tablespoon of butter for canned dulce de leche
  • Search our blog for more shortbread recipes.

Empire Biscuits

November 16: Feast Day of St. Margaret of Scotland

Highlander’s fellow clanswoman, Margaret G., won a shortbread-baking contest at one of the Highland games. Her recipe is versatile so we adapted it into empire biscuits in honor of two other strong Scottish women—the fictitious Princess Merida of the Disney Empire and a real saint, Queen Margaret of Wessex /Scotland.

Empire biscuits are a favorite of Princess Merida’s naughty young triplet brothers that they are seen in the movie trying to steal a plate of them any chance they get. This comic relief is part of the serious story line about a “Brave” young royal who is determined to “choose her own fate”.

Another strong Scottish woman was Queen Margaret. A very pious woman, she followed Christ’s examples of helping the poor and encouraging everyone to pray. She was the mother of eight children (six sons and two daughters), three of whom became kings of Scotland and one became Queen Consort of England. She raised them to become “just and holy rulers”.

Empire biscuits are basically traditional Scottish shortbread cookies with icing crowned with a colorful red cherry in the middle. They resemble tiny tam o’shanters (Scottish caps). As we have mentioned two royal ladies above, Princess Merida and St./Queen Margaret, we are also providing two types of empire biscuits—one as a mound shape (like the ones in the Disney movie) and the other as a sandwich cookie (like the ones sold at Highland games nowadays).

Thanks to our fellow clanswoman, also named Margaret, for sharing her award-winning shortbread cookie recipe so we could make empire biscuits for the Feast Day of St. Margaret of Scotland. 

Recipe

(Adapted from Margaret G.)

For the shortbread biscuits

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup of sugar (super fine is best), plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon cream

For the glaze and garnish

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2+ teaspoons water
  • glace cherries

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in flour a cup at a time. Add egg yolk and cream. Mix well.

Scoop a mound of dough and drop them on a lightly greased cookie sheet about two-inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 22-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven. Cool completely.

While the biscuits are cooling, prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar with the almond extract and water. Add a little more water if the glaze is too thick. Add a little more powdered sugar if the glaze is too thin and runny. Dip the top of each biscuit into the glaze. Top with a cherry before the glaze sets.

For the sandwich-style cookies

Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut with round cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Spread jam (cherry, strawberry or raspberry) between two cookies and press together into a sandwich. Frost the tops with the white glaze. Top with a cherry before the glaze sets.

NOTES 

  • Do not overwork the cookie dough. Just mix thoroughly until the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Maraschino cherries may be substituted for the glace ones. Drain well and cut in half.
  • Empire biscuits are terrific for tea time and royal watch parties.
  • Search our blog for other Scottish recipes.