The following recipe is from the newly revised edition of Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1999. She is author of seven previous award-winning cookbooks, and this revised edition of her first book has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Hall of Fame.

Scotch Shortbread Cookies

"When a Scottish friend of mine went to visit her family in Scotland she returned with this recipe for me from her grandmother. She said that this is the real thing. It is easy and fun to make. The texture of the shortbread is light and sandy. Yummy!"

Yield: 40 to 50 cookies

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup strained confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups strained cornstarch
Adjust rack to center of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl of electric mixer beat the butter until soft. Add sugar and beat for a few minutes. On lowest speed gradually add flour and cornstarch, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating until the ingredients hold together.

Turn mixture onto a board or smooth surface and knead lightly. Use about half of the dough at a time. Wrap the balance airtight.

On a very lightly floured pastry cloth with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4- to 1/3-inch thickness. Cut with a floured 1 1/2-inch round cutter. Save scraps, knead them together briefly, and reroll them all together. Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on an unbuttered cookie sheet.

Pierce each cookie three times with a fork, going all the way through to the cookie sheet. If this is a sticky job, first chill the cookies briefly in the freezer or refrigerator.

Bake about 22 minutes, reversing position of cookie sheet during baking, until cookies have barely colored. Do not overbake. Shortbread should not brown, it should just barely turn a pale sandy color around the edges and on the bottoms.

Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool.

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