The Lab – An Experiment To Taste!

A story of a mother, a daughter and a kitchen…

Sweet Melissa Sunday’s and Pecan Shortbread Cookies April 4, 2010

Filed under: Desert - Non Cupcakes,Sweet Melissa Sundays — loneilteaches @ 3:45 pm
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This week I am blessed to host Sweet Melissa Sunday’s baking group.  I am a little late posting with the family emergencies that I ran into and explained in previous posts.  I do hope you can forgive me when you taste these wonderful little cookies.  The recipe for the Pecan Shortbread Cookies can be found on page 84.  I do agree with Mellissa Murphy, these cookies remind me more of a Mexican Wedding Cookie than the traditional shortbread cookie.

I really enjoy looking at the history and ethnicity of food, so the shortbread is no different.  Here is what I found looking at Scottish Shortbreads

Scottish Shortbread

Scottish cookery has always differed from that south of the Border. The Romans influenced English cooking but as they did not venture far into Scotland, historically Scottish cuisine developed slowly. Scottish cooking methods advanced through the influence of the French at the court of Mary Queen of Scots and later through the elaborate dishes served to English lords with Scottish estates. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert acquired Balmoral in the 19th century and whilst they brought with them the rich food of the English court, they also liked to serve traditional Scottish dishes to important visitors.

Through the ‘Taste of Scotland’ scheme that promotes authentic and innovative Scottish cooking, Scottish cuisine is enjoying a renaissance and now many believe that the best food in Britain is to be found north of the Border.

Scottish cooks have always been famous for their soups, haggis (a dish traditionally served on Burns Night) and their baking, especially scones, pancakes, fruit cakes, oatcakes and shortbread.

The story of shortbread begins with the medieval “biscuit bread”. Any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk: the word “biscuit” means “twice cooked”. Gradually the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.

Shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, shortbread was a special treat reserved just for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. In Shetland it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. The custom of eating shortbread at New Year has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule Cakes which symbolised the sun. In Scotland it is still traditionally offered to “first footers” at New Year.

Shortbread has been attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots, who in the mid 16th century was said to be very fond of  Petticoat Tails, a thin, crisp, buttery shortbread originally flavoured with caraway seeds.

There are two theories regarding the name of these biscuits. It has been suggested that the name “petticoat tail” may be a corruption of the Frenchpetites gatelles (“little cakes”).

However these traditional Scottish shortbread biscuits may in fact date back beyond the 12th century. The triangles fit together into a circle and echo the shape of the pieces of fabric used to make a full-gored petticoat during the reign of Elizabeth I. The theory here is that the name may have come from the word for the pattern which was ‘tally’, and so the biscuits became known as ‘petticoat tallis’.

Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle divided into segments (“Petticoat Tails”); individual round biscuits (“Shortbread Rounds”); or a thick  rectangular slab cut into “fingers.”

Well enough said, I look forward to reading your cookie reviews!

These make beautifully light cookies.  They are no what I would consider an overly sweet cookie.  The cookies are also not what I would consider a shortbread cookie.  These cookies are very similar to the ones my grandmother made when I was little.  She always called them Russian Tea Cookies, but I also know they are similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies.  I left my pecans in pretty big chunks, which added to the flavor with the roasted pecans.  Thanks for all that gave the cookies a try.  I do hope everyone has had a blessed Easter and Passover.


15 Responses to “Sweet Melissa Sunday’s and Pecan Shortbread Cookies”

  1. Susan Says:

    Your cookies look delicious! Thanks for hosting this week. Sorry I didn’t bake with you. Working two jobs has really put a crimp on my baking time.😦

  2. Leslie Says:

    These look perfect! I thought they were delicious with the toasted pecans (which I also kept kind of chunky), so much so that I didn’t add the confectioner’s sugar.

    I hope your mom is doing better…

  3. These look yummy!!

    SMS Baker

  4. dawn Says:

    These look totally delicious. If I wasn’t stuffed to the gills already, I’d be in the kitchen trying these again. Thanks for picking this recipe and for the background on the cookies!

  5. Hornedfroggy Says:

    These were really yummy – thanks for the pick! Sending thoughts & prayers for your mom and you.

  6. Tessa Says:

    Hope your mother is doing much better! Thanks for hosting despite everything!

    We really enjoyed the cookies for a change as I don’t normally choose recipes like this on my own. Thanks for the pick!

  7. Margot Says:

    Hi Lara, thank you for hosting, despite a stressful week; I hope you and your family are doing better. Your cookies look great! I loved this recipe.

  8. Nina Says:

    Thanks for hosting this week. I’ll be sure to post my shortbread pictures and thoughts by Wednesday! It’s been a CRAZYYYY week!

  9. debbieklchan Says:

    Thanks for hosting! These were absolutely yummy! mmmMMM…the nutty buttery goodness…mmmm

  10. Hanaa Says:

    Lara, your cookies look delicious. I’m allergic to pecans so I skipped this week. Wishing you and your family all the best in overcoming your hurdles!!!

  11. Rosy Says:

    Hi Lara, thank you for the great pick, I loved these! Not a typical shortbread but really yummy none the less. R xx

  12. Mara Says:

    Yours look beautiful!! Thanks for hosting this week!!

  13. Your cookies look light and airy compared to mine. I love them, either way. They are now one of hubby’s favorites.

    Thanks for hosting despite your difficult situation. Hope life will be less stressful for you and your Mom and family members.

  14. Tracey Says:

    Thanks for hosting Lara – sorry I’m so late to get over to your blog and comment. Your cookies look fabulous!

    Hope thing start looking up for your family.

  15. […] you to Lara of The Lab for choosing this recipe. Click here for the recipe and here to see the other SMS bakers and their lovely renditions of these […]

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