Tara Lima-Coelho’s Whipped Shortbread

Whipped shortbread 4

Ken Lima-Coelho of the Heebee-Jeebees is one of my favourite people at CBC. When he raved about his wife’s amazing whipped shortbread-a variety I tend to not make myself-I had to give them a go.

Whipped shortbread 1

If there was one single quintessential North American Christmas cookie, this light, sandy-textured shortbread with the little bit of glacé cherry on top might just beat out the gingerbread man. It’s been at least ten years since I’ve whipped shortbread; I tend to default to the dense, Scottish kind. But Ken and Tara persuaded me to give it a go this year. You make it by beating the butter until it’s very light, then adding icing sugar (which amounts to 1/4 cup of regular sugar so really lower in sugar than most cookies, although they don’t taste it) and a high quantity of cornstarch, which lacking gluten, gives it a chalky, as Ken put it, texture. In a good way.

Whipped shortbread 3

The formula for whipped shortbread is pretty standard: butter, sugar, flour and cornstarch (or rice flour) in slightly varied quantities. When Em and I made another batch for her to bring to her school party, we added a drop of vanilla paste and a pinch of salt, and pressed the dough balls down with the back of a spoon instead of a fork. They would also do well with a cookie stamp.

These cookies would also take on flavours well – if you wanted them lemon or orange, you could add the finely grated zest to the butter-sugar mixture as you creamed it.

Also; Tara bakes hers at 300F for 25-30 minutes, until they’re set but not browned. I’m a little more impatient and baked mine at 350F for 12-14 minutes, until they were very pale golden around the edges. Either way.

Whipped Shortbread


December 22, 2012

  • Makes: Makes about 2 dozen cookies.


1 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract or paste (optional)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornstarch

pinch salt


1Preheat the oven to 350F. With an electric mixer, beat the butter for a good minute or two, until light and pale. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat for another minute.

2Add the flour, cornstarch and salt; beat just until you have a soft, smooth dough. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press each down with a fork, the bowl of a spoon or a cookie stamp. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until set and pale golden on the bottom. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.


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6 comments on “Tara Lima-Coelho’s Whipped Shortbread

  1. CathyH
    December 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I make this very cookie every year! Delicious!

  2. Sue/the view from great island
    December 22, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I make tons of different shortbread cookies every year…but I’ve never ‘whipped’ one…gotta try this 😉

  3. Anonymous
    December 22, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    This is the shatter-in-your-mouth type, which so many are very fond of. I like these a lot, but if I had to choose a shortbread, for me it would be the dense types, which I make in the stoneware molds. Must be my Scottish genes!

  4. Kathy H
    December 23, 2012 at 3:46 am

    You can never go wrong with whipped shortbread! One of my favorites. Christmas Joy to you, Julie, and to your loved ones.

  5. Carolyn
    December 23, 2012 at 5:35 am

    I’m baking the last pan of these as I type this…I’ve never had a recipe that’s worked with the cookie stamp I picked up in Europe years ago. They look lovely! My mom is an expert shortbread maker and I commented that hers were especially good this year. She said that she went back to an old recipe and did the low and slow baking. I’m doing that for this recipe.

    I love the daily postings this week! An amazing Christmas present. Thank you!

  6. Anonymous
    April 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Too much corn starch these cookies taste horrible and I love shortbread there my favorite type of cookie I will never use this recipe again yuck

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