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Expert Interview Series: Sharon Macleod of Mary Macleod's Shortbread About The Essence of a Perfect Shortbread Cookie

Courtney Dickson is the Communications Manager for Mary Macleod's Shortbread, where she oversees marketing, communications, and social media strategy. Courtney recently sat down with us to talk about all things shortbread, and also reflected on the recent passing of...

Baking

Courtney Dickson is the Communications Manager for Mary Macleod's Shortbread, where she oversees marketing, communications, and social media strategy. Courtney recently sat down with us to talk about all things shortbread, and also reflected on the recent passing of Mary Mcleod.

What makes Mary Macleod's Shortbread Cookies so unique?

Before moving from Scotland to Canada, Mary Macleod learned to bake from her mother and French grandmother. Perhaps it's this French connection that gives her Scottish cookie a certain je ne sais quoi?

Mary began baking her signature Chocolate Crunch shortbread from a small shop under the marquee of the Capital Theatre in Toronto in 1981. Hers was the first business in Canada devoted exclusively to making artisan shortbread. The recipe is a family secret that has been handed down from grandmother to mother to Mary - and now, from Mary to her daughter-in-law and Chief Cookie Officer, Sharon. Though the business has grown, our shortbread cookies are still made in small batches in downtown Toronto.

How would you like the world to remember Mary?

We hope Mary will be remembered as a caring, compassionate, and strong woman who was always smiling. She worked extremely hard to make the best quality shortbread and was a natural when it came to customer service, always developing a very personal rapport with all her customers.

Baking

When considering adding a new flavor of shortbread cookie to your menu, how do you go about experimenting with recipes or testing the end products?

Our team comes up with an idea, and we work together to brainstorm and find the right ingredients. We are always test-baking and sampling amongst ourselves and our customers to make sure we get it right. It takes time and a great team of tasters and bakers to create the perfect flavor.

Do you have any suggestions or tips for people who are trying to bake their own shortbread cookies?

Mary always said you have to be in a happy, upbeat mood to bake a good shortbread. Never bake when you're upset!

Do you have any non-shortbread recipes that you'd like to share with us?

We make a unique baking ingredient called Butterscotch Shortbread Baking Crumbs. Basically, we take the crumbs from our decadent butterscotch bars and use them in baking. A staff favorite is the Butterscotch Berry Crumble:

Mary Macleod's Butterscotch Berry Crumble

Ingredients

1 c berries (any combination of fresh or frozen, thawed, including juice: blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries)

3 T brown sugar

3 T corn starch

3 T lemon juice

2 c Mary Macleod's Butterscotch Crumbs

1 c quick oats

    • Pre-heat oven to 375F (190C).

    • Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch deep dish pie plate or casserole dish.

    • In a large bowl, mix berries, brown sugar, corn starch, and lemon juice until well blended and coated, then transfer berry mixture into greased dish.

    • In a medium bowl, blend oats and butterscotch crumbs until well combined. Evenly spread the crumb mixture over the berries.

    • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Keep an eye on the crumb topping; if it browns too quickly, cover with a sheet of foil.

    When you're baking shortbread cookies, what are some of the kitchen utensils or items that you rely on the most?

    Our hands! We use them to test consistency, knead, shape, and ultimately perfect our cookies. But of course, it's important to have rolling pins, spatulas, and cookie cutters to get those sweet shapes everyone loves.

    If you need some extra bakeware for your kitchen, check out Cilantro's selection today!