Shortbread is another of those seemingly simple recipes that turns out to have as many variations as there are cooks. Some recipes stipulate butter, some vegetable fat, some a mixture of the two. Some use oatmeal, ground semolina or cornflour as well as, or instead of, wheat flour. Some tell you to cook the shortbread at a low temperature for a long time so that it doesn’t colour at all, others tell you it should be pale golden and one or two say golden brown. Some recipes just use fat, flour and sugar, others add various additional ingredients such as chopped cherries, almonds or chocolate chips. Some shape the mixture into rounds, some into fingers and some into segments of a large circle (“petticoat tails”). You take your choice, according to personal preference. I make several variations, and in the winter chocolate chip shortbread tends to be the most popular. Why in the winter? Because in the summer the chocolate melts on your fingers.
Here’s the recipe:
Chocolate chip shortbread
6 oz (approx 170 g) self-raising flour
4 oz (approx 125 g) butter
2 oz (approx 60 g) light brown soft sugar
2 oz (approx 60 g) chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate (milk or plain, as you prefer)
Grease a square shallow baking tin about 7” (approx 18 cm) square.
Mix the flour and sugar in a bowl.
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir in the chopped chocolate or chocolate drops.
Press the mixture into the baking tin.
Bake in a moderately hot oven about 180 C for about 20 minutes until golden brown. If you prefer pale shortbread, bake in a moderate oven about 150 C for about an hour until pale golden.
Cut the shortbread into fingers while it is still in the tin and still hot. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 5-10 minutes before trying to remove it, as when it is hot it is very crumbly and inclined to break up.
Lift the shortbread fingers out onto a wire rack to finish cooling
Keeps in an airtight tin for a week or two. In theory.