By Cat, Jun 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
I first encountered these wonderful cookies in Portland’s Cafe Society where I frequently had lunch. This wonderful breakfast and lunch spot was owned by a brother and sister (Frederick and Sylvia) who were originally from Whitefish, Montana (which is not far from where I grew up). Their mother, Felicia (Burleigh) Stimson, made the cookies proudly displayed in a glass cookie jar on their counter. They were melt-in-your-mouth cookies. When the cafe closed, Felicia gave me the recipe, which I include (with my adaptations) here.
My favorite part of this recipe: her instruction to “sing a little Scottish song while doing a Scottish Jig,” while the dough mixes in your stand mixer. All just to give the dough a bit of a rest before shaping into balls and pressing them with a cookie press.
Felicia eventually moved back to her beloved Montana, but visited her family in Oregon frequently, where she died, May 5, 2014. See her obituary on the Whitefish Pilot website (2).
Felicia’s Scottish Shortbread Cookies
(Photo, left, from Felicia’s obituary in The Whitefish Pilot (2))
After I moved home, to Bigfork (from Portland), I’ve had the pleasure of slowly unpacking box after box of kitchen goodies. A few years ago, I got to the box of cookbooks, etc.; and there was Felicia’s recipe, written on the back of a used envelope in her handwriting. I reproduce that recipe here with my notes, where applicable, and in brackets as [ ].
Back in the early 1990s when Felicia gave me the recipe, not much was known about GMOs. No one suspected that in just a few years, nearly all corn products in the US would be heavily treated with pesticides and/or herbicides without dying – or even that some would manufacture their own pesticides (as in Bt-Corn) – all because the corn DNA would be artificially modified (genetically engineered). So now, I caution against using any corn product (cornstarch, in this case) unless it is Certified Organic or GMO-free.
Similarly I specify using cane sugar, because all other sugar is made from sugar beets which are GMO to resist the herbicides sprayed on the plants. Felicia uses powdered sugar in the batter, but for optimal nutrition, I suggest making your own powdered sugar from Rapadura sugar (dried sugar cane juice). See instructions: Unrefined Powdered Sugar: Make Your Own
This makes at least 3 – 4 dozen, depending on size of cookie.
Ingredients & Equipment
(photo, right, from True Home Comfort (3))
- 2 lb butter (8 cubes), softened to room temperature
- 2 cups powdered confectioners’ sugar
- 6 cups [unbleached] white flour
- 1 ½ cup [Organic or GMO-free] cornstarch
- granulated white [cane] sugar for shaping cookies
- baking sheets
- large bowl (or bowl of stand mixer)
- medium bowl
- wooden spoon or stand mixer
- Scottie Dog (or other) shortbread cookie stamp (or small glass with decorative bottom) (I use my sandkager press, which is a kitty instead of the traditional Scottie-dog)
- “Measure powdered sugar, flour and cornstarch into sifter, and sift into bowl.
- In the mixer, place the butter, cream it, and slowly add the sugar, flour and cornstarch.
- While it mixes, sing a little Scottish song while doing a Scottish Jig. [Felicia sang “You Take the High Road and I’ll Take the Low Road”]
- Take the dough from the mixer. If it seems too buttery or too crumbly in places, knead a few times as you would knead dough.
- Roll into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter; roll each ball in granulated white cane sugar [and place on cookie sheet]. Flatten each ball [to about ¾” thick] with a cookie stamp . Put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, to harden the butter.
- [Meanwhile preheat oven to 350°F.] When cookies are chilled, place in [pre-heated] oven and bake at 350° for 18 minutes. Shortbread should be golden, not browned.
- [Remove from oven, but] let stay on the pan for a minute or two. [Remove to] let cool on a rack.”
- Felicia Burleigh Stimson, my dear dear friend
- Whitefish Pilot obituary for Felicia Holter Burleigh Stimson: whitefishpilot.com/community/felicia-holter-burleigh-stimson/article_94b1c570-e0fe-11e3-9857-001a4bcf887a.html
- True Home Comfort cookie stamp: truehomecomfort.com/p/Brown-Bag-Scotty-Dog-Cookie-Stamp-New-2014-75583770.html