Monday, December 16, 2013

Mary McLeod's Chocolate Shortbread





Ever since Mary McLeod opened her first tiny shop Mary McLeod Shortbread, at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto over 30 years ago, I've been an enormous fan of her buttery cookies. Her story is one of inspiration, imagination and pure Scottish determination. Newly divorced, a trained nutritionist and looking to get her children through university, she needed to make a living and decided to do what she did best — bake. 



Mary McLeod making her Chocolate Crunch Shortbread



Her specialty then and now is her fabulous shortbread, made using a recipe her grandmother taught her when she was just a wee girl in Scotland. Her shortbreads are all handmade with natural ingredients, rich with butter and perfectly textured. 30 years after she opened her store, Mary McLeod is still going strong, and continues to develop new recipes well into her 70's. My favourite recipe has always been her Chocolate Crunch Shortbread, but this year I ventured further and made her Dutch Chocolate Shortbread with outstanding results — but both are delicious and seem to melt in your mouth.



Mary McLeod Shortbread at 639 Queen Street East



Her shortbread is sold at her location on Queen Street East as well as Holt Renfrew and Summerhill Market, but at $12.75 for 6 cookies, they're not an inexpensive confection. However, I did discover Mary's shortbread recipe online a few years ago, and so I make Mary MacLeod-style shortbread for all of my nearest and dearest every Christmas. They taste exactly like the original, at a quarter of the price — but made with love! 




Butter, fruit sugar, icing sugar, cocoa and Durham wheat flour blended together 
into a rich chocolatey batter



Mary MacLeod's Chocolate Shortbread
Makes 16-20 

8 oz of butter
3 oz of icing sugar
1 oz of white fruit sugar
2 oz Fry's Cocoa
2 oz of Durum wheat flour
9 oz of cake or pastry Flour
1 bar of Lindt 'Intense Dark' 85% Cacao chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch squares


Weigh out all your ingredients into different bowls, with the butter in the main mixing bowl. Using a small hand mixer, cream the butter, icing sugar, sugar, cocoa and durum wheat flour until it becomes an intense chocolatey colour and the sugar and durum wheat have broken down into the butter. Gradually add the flour into the mixture. 


Take the dough out of the bowl and form into little balls, then press them into patties and place on a parchment lined cookie tray. Using a small upturned glass or cookie scoop, indent the tops of the shortbread creating small inset circles, then finish with a square of chocolate pressed into the centre.

Bake at 325°F for 24 minutes, rotating the pan 180° halfway through. Using a spatula, remove the shortbread and let them cool on a rack. Once cooled, dust the tops with icing sugar for the full Mary MacLeod 'look'. Store in an airtight tin or wrap them up in clear cellophane as gifts for friends.





Mary MacLeod's Original Chocolate Crunch Shortbread
Makes 16-20 

8 oz of butter
3 oz of icing sugar
1 oz of white fruit sugar
2 oz of Durum wheat flour
11 oz of Cake or Pastry Flour
1 bar of Lindt extra creamy milk chocolate


Weigh out all your ingredients into different bowls, with the butter in the main mixing bowl. Using a small hand mixer, cream the butter, icing sugar, sugar, and durum wheat flour until a pale white colour. Gradually add the flour into the mixture.

Take the shortbread out of the bowl and form the dough into little balls and then press them into patties, and place on a parchment lined cookie tray. Using a small upturned glass or cookie scoop, indent the tops of the shortbread creating small inset circles, then finish with a square of chocolate pressed into the centre.

Bake at 325°F for 24 minutes, rotating the pan 180° halfway through. Using a spatula, remove the shortbread and let them cool on a rack. Once cooled, dust the tops with icing sugar.