Thursday, January 24, 2013

Weekly Pinterest Project: Pumpkin Shortbread

One of my favorite things about our weekly Mahjong meetings is that everyone pitches in to bring a sweet or salty snack. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice my baking without having 2 dozen cookies leftover at my personal disposal.  Since this week falls in the middle of all the Burns Dinner festivities (more on that little tradition later…), our hostess Vicki is making a traditional Scottish lunch. She asked us all to pitch in by bringing something typically Scottish. 

I signed up for the dessert column and got to brainstorming. I immediately settled on shortbread. I had a successful go at millionaire shortbread for our Scottish themed book club back in July and thought I might try again. However, as I was skimming pinterest for other ideas I spotted this recipe for Pumpkin Shortbread. 
Source of Original Recipe and Photo
Usually I am stingy with my canned pumpkin, but I feel a bit more secure since we have a trip back to the States next week where I can pick up a few replacement cans. 

I decided to experiment with the recipe, but bought a few boxes of Marks and Spencer Millionaire Shortbread just in case it didn’t work out so well. When it comes to baking, I always have a back up plan! 
I had to alter the recipe a bit because: 

1) it called for the use of a tart tray and the cutting of finished shortbread into slices. I’m not neurotic about too many things, but I tend to prefer my shortbread cut into squares. I figured it wasn’t too big of a deal to switch up the shape of my cooking instrument and final presentation. 

And 2) We don’t have access to pumpkin pie spice here in the UK, so I just threw in some cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and called it a day. Ideally, it would have been nice to have some cloves on hand, but hello it is snowing buckets and it simply isn’t worth getting out on those roads when the recipe calls for 1/100 of a teaspoon of the stuff. And plus, I needed something to place the blame on in case it turned disastrous. The fact that I was missing 1/100 of a teaspoon of cloves could be my perfect excuse.  I’m telling you, when it comes to baking, I’ve got my bases covered. 

First let’s start with a little vocabulary lesson. When an American recipe calls for ‘powdered’ sugar, what you’re looking for in the UK is ‘icing’ sugar...I think. That was my best educated guess anyway, and it looks like the same thing. And when it calls for corn starch, you can find that in the box labeled ‘corn flour’. 
Moving on…. 

First you mix the dry ingredients together (flour, pumpkin pie spice, corn starch, and salt) and set them aside. Easy peasy. Then using a hand mixer, mix the room temperature butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Now, this was my first time working with powdered sugar. You have probably not come this far in life without using it in a recipe, but if you have….might I suggest manually mixing the ingredients together a smidge before setting a hand mixer to them.
Powdered sugar everywhere. Good thing I cleaned the whole house earlier today…Once I re-adjusted for the amount of sugar lost in the tragedy, I tried mixing the two ingredients again before adding in a ½ cup of pumpkin. 
Once this concoction was mixed, I added in the dry ingredients little by little until everything was combined. Then I smoothed the mixture into a greased SQUARE pan and baked it for 63 minutes at 300 degree F/150 degrees C. 
And then came the hardest part. The waiting. I had a sinking feeling those store bought millionaire shortbreads were going to come in handy… 

Then about 30 minutes into cooking, the most pleasant smell that had ever passed through my nostrils started wafting through the house. It was like a perfect autumn scented candle.  I started hoping against hope that perhaps my mahjong treat wouldn’t just be edible, but possibly even delicious. 

When it was time to pull the shortbread from the oven, it was golden but not quite ‘firm’ like the recipe foretold. I let it cool in the pan for a few minutes before panicking and went to work making the icing. 
The icing consists of two ingredients: milk and super messy powdered sugar. At this point I began questioning the logic behind re-cleaning the kitchen before the icing was made. Poor decision making on my part. Luckily the process of making icing just involves manually mixing together powdered sugar and milk so the mess was contained to a small spot on the kitchen island. 
Hey, I’ve already cleaned the kitchen countertops twice today, what’s one more time? 

Once it was all mixed together and the shortbread had a chance to cool down and firm up, I glazed the homemade icing over the top. 
And I thought powdered sugar was messy… 

After letting it set for about 15 minutes, I cut my shortbread into squares, just how I like it. I performed a taste test, and even though they aren’t the most beautiful things on earth, they sure do taste pretty. 

The recipe recommends serving the shortbread immediately, but instead I made it the night before, stored it in an airtight container and served it up the next morning. Which might be my perfect excuse for why it’s terrible if it turns inedible overnight. I’m crossing my fingers that’s not necessary, but I gotta have an excuse ready at my disposal just in case… 

If you are interested, you can view the full recipe here.


  1. Put a tea towel over your mixer before pressing on. That should keep most of the icing sugar at bay! :)

  2. Your pumpkin shortbread were delicious, so delicious that I teared up when I went back for seconds and they were gone!!!!

  3. I may be drooling over here. These would be so good with my Sunday morning coffee right now.