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Raisin Shortbreads Tested Recipe

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Raisin Shortbreads Recipe

Raisin Shortbreads had been in my head for months, ever since I saw a recipe in Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Fruit Cookbook. The thought of soft and chewy raisins sandwiched between two layers of tender and crumbly shortbread sounded too good to pass by. So when a cool and rainy day happened along (perfect day for baking), I went out and bought a good unsalted butter and some Thompson raisins and made the recipe. I wasn't disappointed. They tasted every bit as good as they sounded so I just had to share this recipe with you. These raisin shortbread fingers go perfectly with a hot cup of tea or coffee and I also think they would be a nice addition to your Christmas baking.


I know I have said this more than once, but I think it bears repeating. The quality of your shortbread is dependent on the quality of your ingredients, especially the butter. Therefore, buy the best unsalted butter you can find and you will be rewarded with a crispy, crumbly, and buttery shortbread that literally melts in your mouth. Another important ingredient is vanilla extract. Make sure that what you buy is labeled "pure". The best I have found, although it is quite expensive, is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract that can be found in specialty food stores and by mail order. If your budget doesn't allow this expenditure or you cannot find it, don't worry, there are quality brands to be found in your local grocery store. Just stay away from the ones labeled "imitation" vanilla extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla (from glycoside found in the sapwood of certain conifers or from coal extracts) and leave a bitter aftertaste. 

A shortbread batter is quick to make, and this recipe is no exception. It starts by creaming the butter with the vanilla extract and confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar. (When you use confectioners sugar, instead of granulated white sugar, it gives the shortbread a softer crumb.) Once the beaten butter and sugar turn light and fluffy, the flour is added and mixed until a dough is formed. Then divide the dough in half and press one half onto the bottom of a well greased 9 x 13 (23 x 33 cm) pan. A layer of dark raisins are then pressed into the shortbread. (I have used dark Thompson raisins which are simply dried Thompson seedless grapes which have been sun dried which gives them that dark shriveled appearance. Raisins, like dates, have a high sugar content, and are a good source of vitamins and iron.) The remaining dough is pressed on top of the raisins, and then it is brushed with a glaze of lightly beaten egg. The final step is to run the tines of a fork through the egg washed shortbread which adds a decorative touch. Once the Raisin Shortbreads are baked in a moderate oven until lightly golden brown, they are cooled, and then cut into long thin rectangular shaped shortbread "fingers".

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Raisin Shortbreads: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter (or spray with a non stick vegetable spray) a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan. 

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy (about one minute). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the salt and then add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until the dough just comes together.

Divide the dough into two halves, making one half slightly larger than the other half. Spread the smaller half of dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and gently press the dough, with your fingertips or the back of a spoon, to form an even layer. Sprinkle the raisins evenly over the dough and gently press the raisins into the dough. Take the other half of dough and using your fingers, crumble it over the top of the raisins. Then lightly press the dough into an even layer.

Take the lightly beaten egg and, using a pastry brush, coat the top of the shortbread with the egg wash. Then, with the tines of a fork, slowly drag the fork back and forth across the shortbread to make a decorative pattern.

Bake the shortbread for about 30 - 40 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Cut the shortbread into about 1 x 3 inch (2.5 x 7.5 cm) rectangular bars.

Makes about 32 shortbread fingers

Adapted From:

Waters, Alice. Chez Panisse Fruit. Harper Collins. New York: 2002.


Raisin Shortbreads:

1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (120 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar

2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups (260 grams) dark raisins


1 large egg, lightly beaten




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