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Characterized by a generous use of butter, Scottish Shortbread gets its name from the butter, or "shortening", that produces its crumbly texture and rich body. Shortbread is made with three basic ingredients, flour, sugar and butter. While produced as early as the 1100s, Shortbread achieved popularity thanks to Mary, Queen of Scots in the 1500s. In fact, it is said that Queen Mary may have been responsible for naming "petticoat tails", the traditional fan-shaped Shortbread that was spiced with caraway seeds back in her day. Today, Shortbread is made into additional shapes such as rounds and fingers. Shortbread, today widely associated with the Walkers brand, is typically ingrained with fork tines along its surface, creating a distinctive pattern.
While Shortbread has the word bread in its name, most would classify this sweet confection as a cookie, or possibly even a biscuit or cake. Years ago, Scottish bakers fought to keep Shortbread from being classified as a biscuits in order to avoid paying tax on them. Historically, Shortbread was a luxury enjoyed during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and for special occasions such as weddings. Shortbread found its way into Scottish traditions, such as the ceremonial breaking of Shortbread over the bride’s head upon entering her new home.
While Shortbread is typically associated with Scotland, due to its popularity, it is also produced in nearby countries such as Ireland, Denmark and Sweden. In 1898, Joseph Walker, producer of Walkers Shortbread, dreamt of creating the best Shortbread in the world. By the 1970s, Walkers Shortbread Ltd began exporting Shortbread to over 60 countries and today Walkers Shortbread Ltd is Scotland's largest food exporter. Their creamy, buttery Shortbread cookies packaged in a red tartan box are all-natural, made with no artificial flavorings, coloring or preservatives.
Shortbread is undoubtedly the ultimate butter cookie. Slightly sweet, these Scottish cookies are perfect to serve at afternoon tea! To find the best gourmet foods and gift baskets online, begin your search at igourmet.com.