I've started the reviews with plain shortbread - we are going to cover shortbread with fruit fillings, with chocolate, and with various flavorings. But I think plain is a great place to start. A baker might be able to trick me by covering bad shortbread with chocolate. This is naked shortbread - no place to hide.
Let's start with Maclean's (a Scottish company that I ran across at the Fancy Food show. The sales reps were wearing kilts which I thought was pretty cool. If only they had bagpipes!! at least there was no haggis):
This is delicious - tender, crumbly, cooked to perfection. Wow! It literally melts in your mouth. The only problem is finding it! The box I found had been beaten to hell in T.J. "Ghetto" Maxx. I practically had to crawl under some shelving to get it. Hardly a fine way to acquire shortbread.
This is Willa's traditionally southern shortbread bites:
It's made in North Carolina - not the shortbread capital of the world. But as I mentioned in the last shortbread post, we have some Scottish heritage here in NC. Willa's is also very good - although less tender than Maclean's, a tad drier.
Archer Farms surprised me by being very good:
Campbell's (a Scottish company) has a solid shortbread:
But, it's a bit overdone - the bottom especially is overcooked. Hmmmm.....these are about as good as Willa's. I actually like Archer Farms better.
This is from the Shortbread House of Edinburgh:
This one has a fabulous flavor, but as you can see in the picture, a little overdone and a little too crumbly, not tender enough. Just a tad too dry. But the flavor - YUM!
And then there's Walkers - how fabulous are these tins?
Walkers always seem to be cooked just right. And the flavor is terrific. And you can FIND them!!! In an amazing variety.
These are the cookie equivalent of crack cocaine:
I don't know why, but I can't stop eating these! They are thin, but have that amazing shortbread tenderness. They are almost chewy they have so much butter. Wow!! (Steve, I think this makes you my dealer.)
I will admit I am biased because I adore the people at Walkers. But I have to say that Maclean's might actually be my favorite. (Steve, don't hate me!!) Walker's is a close second. In third place, I'd have to go for (shocking!) Archer Farms!!
Don't get me wrong - all of these are great, but if I had to rank them, that's they way I'd call it.
Good luck actually finding Maclean's - it's not the best if you can't get your hands on it! Walkers is just about everywhere from Food Lion to World Market. Keep your eyes peeled for those shortbread thins - wow! And we have many more flavors to review, so you'll hear more from Walkers and others.
Can you hear the bagpipes?