This Cranberry Orange Pecan Scottish Shortbread recipe, is a variation on my classic Traditional Scottish Shortbread recipe, with some additions that take this biscuit to the next level.
Cranberry, Orange & Pecan Scottish Shortbread
Based On A Very Traditional Scottish Recipe
(A flame-haired Scot 😊)Jump to Recipe
Traditional Scottish Recipe
This recipe is based on traditional Scottish shortbread, and the shortbread we eat here in Scotland. Which makes it perfect for Christmas & Hogmanay celebrations, or food gifting anytime of the year.
What Is Scottish Shortbread Made Of?
These soft and melt in the mouth buttery biscuits are surprisingly only made up of 4 main ingredients: butter, flour, cornflour & Sugar.
The corn flour (corn starch), helps to give that extra soft texture that just ‘melts in the mouth’!
For our American readers, biscuits are what we call our cookies, not to be confused with US biscuits. If you want to learn more, check out my Differences Between UK & US Baking Ingredients article.
Why Make This Scottish Shortbread?
This cranberry orange & pecan Scottish shortbread is based on a true Scottish recipe and the way it is still made today.
Scottish shortbread is super simple to make too with no difficult processes, and ideal for beginner bakers.
Makes for a simple but delicious & different type of cookie to include in your food gifting next Christmas. With no decorating required, you can easily make different shapes and flavours to add to a cookie plate. Try my original Scottish Shortbread recipe, or the Chocolate Coconut Scottish Shortbread version.
Some Tips For Shortbread
You can of course do half of the batch regular and half with these flavour additions, just remember to half the amounts.
Chopping The Nuts
A tip for chopping nuts, to stop them flying everywhere and taking half the time to cut. Use 2 large sharp knifes. Hold them both together in one hand and use the opposite hand to hold the end of the two blades together. Chop from the handle side first and then chop at the tip end. Proceed by keeping the handle end down and repeat chopping in an up & down motion at the tip end, pushing down with the palm of your hand. Works for chopping herbs too. Alternatively chopped lightly in a food processor, or in a food bag & bash with a rolling pin.
The shear delicate nature of Scottish shortbread, means it is not suitable to use in cookie moulds. The chances of the dough sticking or breaking is very high. If you really want to try it, you would need to work the dough more, well grease the mould, and make longer. This might work, but the over-working the cookie dough and baking longer, will make a tougher dough. And in the end, you will not have the soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture of Scottish shortbread, but more of a regular shortbread.
A Note On Ingredients
The equivalent of Caster Sugar, is extra/super fine sugar in the states.
Make Your Own Caster Sugar
If you can’t source either of these sugars, you can make your own by grinding regular granulated sugar a little bit or processing them lightly. Do not go as fine as a powder, keep it as small granules. See my photo above of icing/powdered sugar, caster sugar & granulated sugar granule sizes for your reference. Please note when making your own caster sugar, that US granulated is slightly finer a granule size than our UK equivalent. Read more about Differences In UK & US Baking Ingredients
Orange & Nuts
I used a premium orange extract, but you can easily used orange zest and a tsp of orange juice. You can also omit the nuts if there’s any allergies, or use a different nut if you like too 🙂
You can also try some chopped hazelnuts in place of pecans, or chocolate chips in place of the dried cranberries. For cup measurements, the 61g of roughly chopped hazelnuts was about ½ cup and the 50g of chocolate chips a ⅓ cup.
Cookie Cutter – in these photos I used a 6½cm x 3cm/ (2½” x 1¼”) rectangular cutter & a second batch 4cm (1¾”) square cutter.
Recipe Yield– this shortbread recipe makes 32 biscuits if using the same size rectangular cutter as I did (or cut the finger to that size). 41 biscuits with the square cutter.
Nutritional Values – if you track what you eat, nutritional values for 1 serving, can be found in the Recipe Card below. Values from MyFitnessPal.com, where you can not only save recipes & macros of foods you eat, but you can use it for free to track what you eat each day. I am not sponsored by MyFitnessPal.com, but some ofmy recipes are saved there. Go to my Cranberry Orange Pecan Scottish Shortbread recipe on MyFitnessPal.com.
DOWNLOAD THE RECIPE – to save to your phone or computer. Just click the ‘download’ button below.
- 225g Butter, cubed & softened
- (1 cup/2 sticks or 8 oz)
- 110g Caster Sugar (* see note)
- (½ cup Extra/super fine sugar, 4 oz)
- 225g Plain Flour
- (1 ¾ cups All Purpose, 8 oz)
- 110g Corn Flour
- (1 cup less 1 tbsp Corn starch, 4 oz)
- Pinch Salt
- 2 tsp Orange Extract (or zest of orange & 1 tsp oj)
- 73g Dried Cranberries (1¼ cup, 2½ oz)
- 52g Pecans, roughly chopped (optional)
- (¾ cup, 1¾ oz)
- Some Granulated Sugar for topping
- Scales or Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Large spoon
- Stand or Hand Mixer, (or Medium-Large Mixing bowl & spoon)
- Pastry Cutter (optional)
- Baking/parchment Paper
- Baking Tray/sheet x 2
- Palette knife or sharp kitchen spatula
- Timer or Phone Timer
- Cooling Rack
- 2 Large chopping knives
- Chopping Board
- Zester (optional)
- OVEN: 180c/160c Fan Oven/350f/Gas Mark 4
Prepare The Dough
1. Weigh or measure out and cube the butter and leave out till softened. I like to cut to about 1cm or ⅓” size as a smaller surface area will soften faster. If you forget to take out in time, here’s a little video hack for softening in about 12 minutes that I reviewed.
2. Weigh/measure out the sugar into you mixing bowl and add in the softened butter. Combine these two ingredients with a stand/hand mixer until light and fluffy, (known as ‘creaming the butter’). You can of course do by hand with a spoon and some elbow power! See Photo 1.
3. Lightly oil the baking trays/sheets before placing baking/parchment paper on top – only need oil if there is no lip or edge on your baking trays/sheets, or else your cookies will fall off!
4. Place the bowl back on the scales with the sieve on top and set to zero (TARE). Weigh in the flour, cornflour (corn starch) & salt through the sieve, then mix briefly by hand. See Photo 2.
5. Now I like to use a Pastry Cutter/Pastry Blender for this part, it helps you incorporate the flours into the butter/sugar mixture much more easily & is quicker, (especially when your hands hurt sometimes like mine!) With the pastry cutter, you push down on the bottom of the bowl and perform a crushing and turning motion, rotating left and right. Do this to all the mixture until the butter had taken in all the flours. See Photo 2.
Note though that the mixture will not come together into a ball at this stage. It will be very crumbly and that is fine. Otherwise you wouldn’t have the soft texture after baking. This is also why I don’t knead the dough as such. Try to avoid using a food processor, as it isn’t as gentle on the dough.
6. Remove the crumbly dough from the mixing bowl and squeeze it together, forming into a rectangular shape by hand, (no rolling out), like in Photo 3. Place on some baking/parchment paper then spread out roughly with your fingertips to open up the dough before adding in half of the orange extract (1 tsp). See Photo 4 below where I dotted the extract over the top of the dough.
*Tip – add some orange zest too for even more flavour, or in place of the extract.
7. Next fold the ends of the dough over, into the centre of the dough, covering where you added the extract. Turn the dough over, turn it 90 degrees and repeat the folding.
8.Add in half of the dried cranberries and chopped nuts on top of the dough, before folding the dough again, like before. See Photo 4. Repeat with the remaining cranberries, nuts and extract, folding and working the extra ingredients into the dough, as gently as possible. See Photo 5 below.
9. Once all the ingredients are worked into the dough, gently bring it together into a rough square or rectangular shape. The dough will be nice and soft now, but will still need to be chilled to relax the gluten that has just be worked. (See Photo 5 above).
10. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes for the dough to also firm up and make rolling easier. Not forming into a disc shape, will also mean less rolling out as you will get more shapes from it.
*Tip – you can leave the shortbread dough in the fridge overnight if need be. Just wrap well in cling film/plastic wrap.
Cutting The Shortbread
Using A Cutter
1. To use a cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits, roll out your shortbread dough between 2 sheets of baking/parchment paper (these can be re-used). Roll out to a rectangular shape, to a thickness of about 1-1½ cm ( ⅓– ⅔“). Dip a rectangular cookie cutter (see sizing in equipment section), into a small bowl with a little flour, before pressing down on the rolled-out dough, to cut out as many biscuits as possible. See Photo 6.
2. Leave transferring the biscuits till all cut out, and simply pull back the excess dough. ‘Dock’ the surface of the biscuits with a fork to help release air when baking and reduce spreeding, before carefully transferring the biscuits to the prepared baking tray/cookie sheet with a palette knife. (Leave at least 1½ cm (⅔“) gap in-between the biscuits).
You can also cut out different shapes with a cutter, like my recipe tester Mrs D often does. (See Photo collage below with regular Scottish shortbread in petticoat tails).
Traditionally, Scottish shortbread can be make without a cookie cutter and freehand, in either biscuit ‘fingers’ or Petticoat Tail triangles, (see Photo 7 above). For the Petticoat Tails, form about ⅓ of the shortbread dough into a flat disk, 1-1½ cm ( ⅓– ⅔“) deep, and about 10cm (4″) in diameter. Divide into 6 triangles, ‘dock’ the surface with a fork, and form a crimp at the edges, by squeezing the biscuit dough between your thumb and index finger, like in Photo 7 above.
For shortbread fingers, form the dough into a rough rectangle by hand & without a rolling pin, with a depth of 1-1½ cm (⅓– ⅔“). Then use a knife to trim the edges straight, and cut fingers about 1½ cm (⅔“) by 6¼ cm (2½” ). *Cut slightly thinner than you want as they will puff up a little on baking. Roll up the scraps of dough and form more biscuit fingers or other shapes. With cranberry & nut inclusions, cutting can be a bit more difficult & you might have to go over some of the cuts. See Photo 8 below of the classic Scottish shortbread recipe cut into fingers.
*Tip For Neat Biscuits – after cutting the biscuit fingers, use 2 knives to straighten the sides to make cleaner, sharper edges & sides. Turn the shortbread fingers over, place on the cookie tray, chill for 30 minutes, then turn them over and continue chilling for another 30 minutes before the baking time.
Chill The Biscuits
1.After all biscuits are on the cookie trays, chill the shortbread in the fridge for 1 hour. Be sure not to skip this part as it is essential for the soft texture and for less spreading. *Tip – You can also leave the cut out of shortbread dough in the fridge overnight. Just cover in cling film/plastic wrap and bake straight from the fridge.
2. Heat the oven to 180c/160c Fan Oven/350f/Gas Mark 4, to coincide with the ending of the 1 hour chill time.
Bake The Shortbread
1. Place 2 of the cookie trays/sheets in the oven and bake for 14 – 18 minutes. (If you have a 3rd tray, keep in the fridge). You may need a little longer baking time, but you want to take them out when the edges are just starting to turn a very pale golden colour, (see photos below). The rest of the shortbread should be quite pale, like sugar cookies. You can turn and rotate the trays during baking to ensure an even bake if needed, after 8 minutes.
2.To test if ready to come out, attempt to push the biscuits to see if they will move when very gently pushed. Be aware though that they will still be soft, and so should be left on the baking trays for 5-10mins. As soon as removing from the oven however, you want to sprinkle plenty of granulated sugar on top of the biscuits.
Cooling The Shortbread
1. After the 10 minutes of cooling & setting on the baking tray, transfer the baked shortbread (very carefully) to a cooling rack by lifting the baking/parchment paper. Slide the paper and biscuits onto the cooling rack. The biscuits are very delicate and so this I find to be the best way to move them and reduce breakages.
2. Leave the biscuits to cool down completely on the cooling rack.
Serving & Storage
1. Enjoy the cranberry orange pecan shortbread once cooled, with a cup of tea or coffee (or Whisky if you prefer).
2. Once cooled, store Scottish shortbread in an airtight tin or container for at least 7 days. I find storing cakes & biscuits in a metal cookie or cake tin to help keep them fresh longer. I once shipped homemade shortbread from Scotland to America, well wrapped inside a tight-fitting cake tin. Delivery took 2 weeks, but the shortbread was still good!
Thanks for reading. Click for my Original Authentic Scottish Shortbread recipe.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: easy, beginner
READERS’ PHOTOS & FEEDBACK
Check out my page of my different shortbread recipes, made by my readers – Readers’ Cookies Page . Below are just 2 photos of the lovely bakes by Sally P, & Vicki D, from a Great British Bake Off, (Great British Baking Show) Facebook group I run. To join the GBBO Fans Facebook group, be sure to answer all questions & say how you found the group.
Chocolate Coconut Scottish Shortbread
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- Scales or measuring cups
- Large spoon
- Stand or Hand Mixer, (or Medium-Large Mixing bowl & spoon)
- Pastry Cutter/pastry blender (optional)
- Knife & chopping board
- Baking/parchment paper
- Baking Sheet/Tray x 2
- Rectangular Cookie Cutter (Optional – 6½cm x 3cm/ 2½" x 1¼" used, & a 4cm / 1¾" square cutter)*
- Palette knife or sharp kitchen spatula
- Timer or Phone Timer
- Cooling rack
- * See Notes after Recipe Card
- 225 grams Butter, unsalted, cubed & softened (1 cup/2 sticks or 8 oz)
- 110 grams Caster Sugar (3¾ oz), ½ cup Extra/super fine sugar)*
- 225 grams Plain Flour (1 ¾ cups All Purpose or 8 oz)
- 110 grams Corn Flour (3¾ oz, 1 cup less 1 tbsp Corn Starch)
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 tsp Orange Extract (Or zest of 1 orange)
- 73 grams Dried Sweetened Cranberries (1¼ cup, 2½ oz)
- 52 grams Pecans, roughly chopped (¾ cup, 1¾ oz – Optional – hazelnuts also work well)
- Granulated Sugar for topping
Prepare The Biscuit Dough
- Weigh/measure & cube the butter before leaving to soften. (Cut about 1cm or ⅓” size as smaller surface area will soften faster). Forgot or in a hurry? Try this video hack for softening in about 12 minutes.
- Add the sugar to your mixing bowl before adding in the softened butter & lightly mixing by hand before moving onto using the hand mixer or stand mixer, on a low speed to begin with . Use the mixer and k-paddle (not the beater attachment), to ‘Cream’ the butter & sugar together.
- Prepare 2 or 3 large baking/cookie sheets/trays with some baking/parchment paper, greasing in place if these do not have any lip (or your cookies might slide off).
- Sieve over the flour, corn flour/starch & pinch of salt and gently start to mix into the sugar/butter mixture by hand only. Do not use a mixer or food processor.
- Take a Pastry Cutter/Pastry blender and push down on the bottom of the bowl, rotating left & right. Repeat on all areas of the mixture until the butter has taken on all the flour. This is recommended if your hands hurt or tire easily & will only take a minute. Alternatively, you can do this ‘Cutting In’ process, with 2 butter knives, or rubbing the mixture between your fingertips. See this done in my British Scones video, at 5 minutes in. **Note the mixture will not come together into a ball, but be crumbly at this stage.
- In the mixing bowl, or on top of lightly floured baking/parchment paper, very gently use your hands and squeeze the dough till it comes together. Then form into a rectangular or square shape, (about 4"/10cm width), rather than a flat disc.
Flavouring The Shortbread
- Lightly flour a counter/worktop or some baking/parchment paper, and use your fingers or palms, to open the dough up a bit more, no need for a rolling pin. (See Photo 3 before this recipe card for a visual). Then dot over half of the orange extract (1 tsp), and gently knead into the dough for a few seconds. **If you want to make 2 different flavours, you can half the dough at this stage.
- Open up the dough again and add in half of the cranberries & nuts before folding over the ends, towards the centre, to cover over the nuts & fruit. Turn over the dough, rotate 90 degrees and repeat the folding process. Then repeat with the remaining orange extract, cranberries & nuts. You should have an orange smelling, fruit/nut studded dough now. Gently form into a rectangular shape & chill for 10 minutes to relax the dough a little. *Tip – you can chill the shortbread dough in the fridge overnight if needed, by wrapping well with cling film/plastic wrap.
Cutting Out The Shortbread
- Lightly flour a counter/worktop or some baking/parchment paper, and use a rolling pin to open up the shortbread dough to a rough rectangle or square shape, with a thickness of about 1-1½ cm ( ⅓– ⅔“). *Tip – use 2 sheets of paper to do this & keep the rolling pin clean). Use a flour dipped rectangular cookie cutter to cut out the shortbread, leaving moving the dough till you have finished cutting out. Pull back the excess dough, use a fork to ‘Dock’ the shortbread pieces, before carefully transferring to a prepared cookie tray with a palette knife. (See Photo 6 before this Recipe Card).
- Traditionally, Scottish shortbread is made without a cutter and freehand, in biscuit ‘fingers’ or Petticoat Tail triangles. For Petticoat Tails, shape ⅓ of the dough into a ball then a flat disk, 1-1½ cm ( ⅓– ⅔“) deep, about 10cm (4″) in diameter. Cut into 6 triangles, [wprm-glossaryid=1824] the surface, and crimp the edges, by squeezing the dough between your thumb and index finger.
- For simple shortbread fingers, shape the dough into a rough rectangle by hand, with a depth of 1-1½ cm (⅓– ⅔“). Trim the edges straight, and cut biscuit fingers about 1½ cm (⅔“) wide by 6¼ cm (2½” ) long. *Cut slightly thinner, as they puff a little on baking. Use the left-over scraps to make petticoat tails, or more fingers. Go over the cuts again if need be, as the cranberries and nuts make cutting not as easy. Again [wprm-glossaryid=1824] the shortbread fingers before placing on the tray, with at least 1½ cm (⅔“) gap in-between the biscuits.
Chill The Shortbread Dough
- Place the baking sheets/trays in the fridge for 1 hour. This step should not be omitted or the shortbread will spread and join together and lose their soft texture.
- Alternatively, you can cover the cut-out shortbread with cling film/plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight or for 2 days maximum, and simply bake directly from the fridge).
Bake The Shortbread
- Before the 1 hour is up, set the oven to 180°c/160°c Fan/350°f/Gas Mark 4.
- Place 2 of the prepared shortbread trays/baking sheets in the centre of the oven & bake for 14 – 18 minutes. You may need a little longer, however do not over-bake. Only the edges will be turning a very pale golden colour and the rest will be pale like sugar cookies. Turn & rotate the trays during baking if needed, but after 8 minutes. Test by gently pushing the biscuit, which should move but still be soft.
- Place the cookie tray on top of a cooling rack, sprinkle plenty of granulated sugar on top of all the shortbread and leave where they are for 5 – 10 minutes. Meanwhile bake your 3rd lot of shortbread.
- Once the shortbread has had 5 – 10 minutes to cool and set a little, you need to very carefully transfer & remove from the baking sheet. Scottish shortbread is extremely delicate so the best way to do this is use the baking/parchment paper, by pulling one end and sliding the shortbread (and paper), onto the cooling rack. Then leave to cool down completely.
Serving & Storing
- Enjoy cranberry orange pecan shortbread once cooled, with tea or coffee (or Whisky if you prefer).
- Store cooled Scottish shortbread in an airtight tin or container for at least 7 days. Metal cake or cookie tins are highly recommended. I have had Scottish shortbread still taste great after 14 days.
NUTRITIONAL VALUES – I am not a qualified nutritionist, and all nutritional values approximate & based on a serving of 1 rectangular/finger biscuit as per size stated above, where recipe yield is 32 rectangular biscuits/cookies. Make more or less cookies & the nutritional values will change. Values calculated from website My Fitness Pal.com, where more macros can be found & tracked. Go to my Cranberry Shortbread Pecan Scottish Shortbread recipe on MyFitnessPal.com
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