To me, shortbread is one of the most awesome things ever. That firm mouthfeel, not too sweet -- it's heaven. And if you have good shortbread, and you cover that with a good layer of something like caramel, and then cover that with some nuts -- probably almond slivers or pecans would be best -- and maybe get just a bit, not too much, of some other things in there like chocolate chips or marshmallow cream or what have you, or maybe not, maybe just the shortbread, caramel and nuts, and serve it still just slightly warm from the oven -- well.
If you can do all of that really well, I may just be putty in your hands. Or a big doughy fat guy in your foyer.
I was raised in a Protestant denomination which was really cool in some ways, such as all-in support of full rights for everyone regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, disability or anything else, but seemed to be opposed to enjoying food, judging from the food we made. Think casseroles with egg noodles, green beans from a can and tuna from another can. Think proteins with all of the flavor boiled out of them and not even seasoned.
But dessert seemed to be an exception somehow, and now and then there'd be a potluck lunch after church on Sunday, and sometimes someone would bring an absolutely amazing gooey, nutty shortbread thingy to one of those potluck lunches. I'm telling you, Brothers and Sisters in the Light of Our Lord: now and then somebody would absolutely nail it.
People talk about how their favorite foods are often those they associate with their childhood. I have a lot of favorite foods, but most of them are fairly recent acquaintances. One of the very few favorites that takes me right back to childhood is a really good gooey nutty shortbread thingy. One bite, and I'm back in the church basement, and a whole lot of basically ruined tasteless bland food is spread out with paper plates and plastic forks and spoons and styrofoam cups for the bargain-basement coffee from a coffeemaker that looked like this,
but in the middle of all of that culinary futility, someone has left a pan of the good stuff, and I'm having a spasm of joy as I eat it with my fingers from my paper plate, in between running around wild all over the church with the other kids. (They let us run around all over the church when there wasn't a service in progress. Nobody got mad at us for that. Maybe they would've gotten mad if we'd taken food with us and gotten crumbs all over the church. But we didn't.)
But to me, good shortbread is also awesome with nothing at all on it. In fact, sometimes I have shortbread with sugar or frosting on top, and I wish they'd left the sugar or frosting off.
I'll probably still have some, though, even with the sugar or frosting.
Have I ever made shortbread myself? No. Why not? you're asking. Well. That's an interesting question. A good question, a fair question. I'll have to think about that and get back to you.