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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch

When a recipe says to get out a 9x13-inch pan you're probably like me and think "bar cookies!" In this case you could say that Skibo Castle Ginger Crisp is a bar cookie. However, unlike most bar cookies that are cakey and thick, this is crisp and thin. Ginger is the dominant flavor of this great import from the Highlands of Scotland and with background notes of vanilla and that sort of je ne sais quoi flavor imparted by Lyle's Golden Syrup these delightful tidbits definitely please.

This recipe was originally presented in Gourmet magazine in 1999 and is included in The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009. This delicious little cookie was made for guests at Andrew Carnegie's Highland retreat known as Skibo Castle. The faux Tudor estate dates from the 19th and 20th centuries but is built on a much older foundation from the 12th century. It is now a private retreat owned by the Carnegie Foundation.

Skibo Castle in Scotland
I found these little cookies to be utterly delightful. I love ginger and since the flavors of this cookie are carried by the ginger and butter you'll want to be sure to use top quality for both. I prefer Penzey's Powdered China Ginger #1. I've found it to be the best ginger for baking with it's wonderful bite and perfect texture.

The texture of the cookies is superb. You'll notice when taking a bite that they are crisp and give a little crunch. However, they quickly almost melt in the mouth and you get the most wonderful butter flavor alongside a nice hot ginger bite. 

The original directions for this recipe don't mention the use of a sling in the 9x13 pan. I strongly recommend making either an aluminum foil or parchment sling. The name does not lie and these cookies are very crisp. You'll probably find that they don't all cut perfectly due to their crisp texture anyway, so trying to cut them in a pan or dumping them upside down is just inviting cracks and crumbs! Using a sling to remove them in one piece before slicing will cut down on irregular pieces. Honestly, though, I rather liked the homemade look of some with ragged edges - almost like the shapes of peanut brittle.

These are wonderful with lemon tea and a delight with lemonade. I've had trouble keeping my hands off them as I tend to grab one or two pieces as I walk past the counter. Hopefully, I'll manage to save a few to share!

Recipe: Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch

Description: A quick and easy ginger shortbread cookie that gives HUGE taste.


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbs. Lyle's Golden Syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13-inch pan and line with a greased parchment or aluminum foil sling to assist in removal of cookies.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment combine dry ingredients and mix on low speed momentarily. Add cubed cold butter and beat until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (You may also use a food processor for this step and pulse 2 to 3 times.)
  3. Press mixture into prepared pan evenly. The base will be thin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or just until golden and crisp.
  4. Just before the shortbread base is done add the butter for the topping to a small saucepan and melt. Once butter is melted add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Boil for 30 seconds then pour mixture over warm shortbread base. Tilt pan as necessary to coat the base fully. Allow pan to cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. When cool remove from pan using the sling and cut into squares of about 2 to 3" on a firm surface. These cookies are very crisp so some may crack when cutting. However, this gives them a great homemade appearance.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 5-6 dozen
Culinary tradition: Scottish

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