After I started making shortbread cookies, I wanted to find a cheaper way to make them (without sacrificing texture or flavor). Since there are only 3 main ingredients in shortbread (butter, flour, and sugar), and butter being the most expensive of the 3, I contemplated substituting margarine or shortening in place of butter. I read lots of hype over how shortening helps keep the cookies from spreading because of its higher melting temperature. Then there were the articles that praised margarine for its zero cholesterol count, but overall, butter tipped the scales because of its flavor and creamy texture. (EzineArticles.com)
Even though I started off with the “cookie spreading” problem, I was not willing to sacrifice quality because of it. So, I made a few changes in prepping my dough, cooking temperature, and so on, and I have managed to resolve the “cookie spreading” issues. I love the soft texture and the flavor of my cookies, and I don’t want to sacrifice any of that just to cut down on cost.
Occasionally, I still research “butter vs. shortening vs. margarine” and I have read many reviews from people who swear by shortening over butter or a shortening+butter combination, however, I have decided to stick to the original shortbread recipe, and follow the British:
In 1921 Britain proclaimed a law that stated that a “shortbread” recipe must have at least 51% of its fat from butter to be called a shortbread (answers.com).
Since I love the melt-in-your-mouth, delicate, cake-like texture of my shortbread cookies, I will continue to use real butter in my recipe. You can’t cut corners on quality.