Scottish Shortbread

Continent: Europe
Country: Scotland
Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour 
Information Source: History of Scottish Shortbread

Traditional shortbread might be more than 800 years old, but historians haven't pinned down an exact age. The Romans invasion of England heavily influenced that countries cuisine, but the Romans never really made into Scotland. This led to Scottish cuisine being distinct from that of their southern neighbor with dishes like haggis, scones, oatcakes, and of course, shortbread. Mary, Queen of Scots, was purportedly quite fond of a thinner version of shortbread made with caraway seeds.

Shortbread started as a creative way to use up leftover bread dough. It was pressed thin, then baked at low temperature until it dried out. Eventually, the yeast in the dough was replaced by the key performer shortbread is best known for today: butter.
I chose to make shortbread because I wanted to "visit" Scotland again via my oven. I was lucky enough to visit Scotland in person as a child with my family. I have pleasant memories of tromping through the countryside to visit castles and historical sites. I actually can't remember if we ate a lot of shortbread or not. My strongest memory is the porridge we had a one Bed and Breakfast. It was warm, thick, and comforting, and kept us going for hours after we ate it. (I'm pretty sure the toast and bacon we had with it helped there.) So why shortbread to visit Scotland?

While I'm happy to be on this baking expedition, as it were, it's not the only trip I'm taking. I'm also exploring new ways to take care of myself and love my body as it is. Butter, and cookies like shortbread, have always felt a little like forbidden fruit: high in fat and calories, it's not exactly food for every day. But since even cookie monster has found a balance of healthy food and indulging, I don't see a reason why I can't try that approach myself. So: shortbread, for a visit to Scotland and a way to indulge my cravings.

I also used indulgence as an excuse to practice my skills in tempering and piping chocolate. (And, in an act of self love, I have chosen to only post the one that turned out nicely. I'm sure you can use your imagination to create a messy picture of less-nice versions in your head!)