Shortbread, one of the sweetest contributions Scotland has made to world cuisine, is at heart a simple cookie. Minimalist versions need nothing more than flour, sugar and butter.
Historically made with oat flour as well as wheat, modern bakers use a wide range of flours, including rice flour, for different degrees of crispiness. They are also altering the sugar blend, to include powdered sugar, superfine sugar, or brown sugar.
Traditional beside a steaming mug of tea, shortbread gets involved as a component of other desserts, as a crust for pies or tarts, as a component of fools and trifles, or dunked in dark chocolate and presented on after-dinner sweets platters.
Royal pedigree: Mary, Queen of Scots gets credit for championing shortbread during her 16th century reign. Her favorites were said to be "petticoat tails," thin shortbread wedges topped with caraway seeds.
Here, shortbread provides the crunch in a quick dessert for peach season. Don't pulverize the cookies for this preparation, or the cookie shrapnel will soften too quickly atop the juicy, caramel-tinged peach.
>Broiled Peaches with Yogurt and Shortbread
3 ripe peaches, halved and pitted
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, or drained yogurt, preferably whole-milk
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
1/4 cup shortbread cookies, coarsely crumbled
Sea salt or kosher salt (optional)
Preheat broiler. Use foil to line a pan big enough for 6 peach halves. Place peach halves cut side up on pan. Sprinkle evenly with sugar. Wait 5 to 10 minutes for sugar to dissolve.
Meanwhile, put yogurt in small bowl. (To get 1/2 cup drained yogurt, put about 1 cup of regular unflavored yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth or paper coffee filter, and let whey drain out for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight.) Add honey to yogurt and stir to mix well.
Put pan with peaches on top rack of oven, close to preheated broiler. Check after 5 minutes, and frequently thereafter, broiling peaches until they are browned in places, about 8 to 10 minutes. You might carefully rearrange the peach halves to promote more even browning.
Remove peaches from oven and let cool slightly. Add a generous dollop of honeyed yogurt to each peach cavity. Shower each peach with shortbread crumbs. Sprinkle with a pinch of large-grained salt, if using. Serve immediately.