From their small commercial kitchen space, Laura and Anwar Allen of the popular Allens Scottish Shortbread are realizing a dream begun by Laura’s grandmother, Jessie Rabbit. During the 1980s, from her bed & breakfast in the Berkshires, Grandma Rabbit—an immigrant from Scotland—baked and served shortbread just the way her family always had: as a “wee nibble,” appropriate anytime, especially with a spot of tea.
Laura remembers seeing Scottish shortbread on the table in the same way one might keep flowers or hard candy. It became so popular with guests that Grandma Rabbit decided to sell the budding shortbread baking business to spend more time with her family.
20 years later, Laura and Anwar met at the University of Virginia. Laura recounted these stories to him, and Anwar, a first generation American himself, recognized the dream. After graduating UVa with degrees in English Literature and African American Studies, and following a short stint running a digital media and marketing company, the Allens decided to take the chance as bakers.
Allens Scottish Shortbread, A Family Business
Shortbread with Harney & Sons Tea
Pairing Shortbread & Tea
Laura recommends enjoying their shortbread with Harney & Son’s London Fog, Paris & Earl Grey Supreme teas with milk. “They all pair perfectly with the shortbread for a lovely tea time,” she says. Whether enjoyed on their own or accompanied by a hot cup of comforting tea, Allens Scottish Short Bread is an excellent sweet treat. Read on in this story for an easy Millionaire’s Shortbread Recipe crafted by the Allens that you can enjoy at home, perhaps with a delicious cup of Harney & Son’s tea.
Scottish Shortbread, Growing A Tradition in Virginia
Today, using custom shortbread pans and the same shortbread cutters that Grandma Rabbit used 40 years ago, the Allens produce over 60,000 boxes of their amazing Scottish shortbread each year. With her vibrant storytelling, whimsical artistry and devotion to her roots, Laura feels that she is “weaving a tapestry of culture for a culture-specific product” and bringing Americans that Scottish tradition of a “wee nibble” of shortbread, appropriate anytime, especially with a spot of tea. She loves that the family baking business is continuing into the future and that their daughters are part of the story.
You can purchase these delicious shortbread cookies at retailers throughout Virginia or from Allen’s Scottish Shortbread Online Shop.
Learn more about the renowned food and drink makers paving the way for greatness in Virginia Wine Country with Virginia Wine & Country’s Meet the Maker series. From award-winning winemakers, gardeners and Michelin Star chefs, Virginia is home to a robust farm-to-table movement defined by culinary delights and craft beverages such as heritage hard cider and award-winning craft beer. This article originally appeared in Book 14 of Virginia Wine & Country Life. Start your subscription here or give a gift subscription. ~
Easy Millionare's Shortbread
- 1 box Traditional Allen's Scottish Shortbread
- 14 oz Condensed Milk
- 8 oz Ghiradelli Chocolate
Caramelized Condensed Milk
- Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium heat
- Place unopened can of condensed milk in the boiling water, cover and let simmer for three hours, turning the can every half hour to prevent scorching
- Remove the can and let cool
- Break the chocolate up into small pieces
- Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between rounds until fully melted
- Open box of shortbread
- Spread a layer of the caramelized condensed milk on top of the shortbread layer and chill.
- Spread a layer of melted chocolate over the chilled caramel and shortbread base and sprinkle with sea salt. Chill in the fridge until your millionaire’s shortbread is set.
BRIAN MELLOTT has a master’s degree in education, and is a writer and photographer whose work shows his passion for food and the people who create it.
JEN FARIELLO has been taking beautiful photographs since 1996, specializing in journalistic, fine art wedding and portrait photography. Jen’s work has been featured in many regional and national publications like Time, People, Rolling Stone, Southern Weddings, The Knot, Weddings Unveiled, Southern Living and Wine & Country Weddings.
Virginia Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in Virginia Wine Country. Virginia Wine & Country Life is a semi-annual luxury print magazine with a full digital presence. The Virginia Wine & Country Gold Book is an annual guide to the top award-winning wines, wineries and experiences in Virginia Wine Country. The annual Virginia Wine & Country Wedding Planner is an art book of elegant Virginia weddings. The brand includes the Virginia Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, Va. It is a beautiful lifestyle boutique that brings the pages of the magazines to life. Virginia Wine & Country tells the stories of Virginia wineries, the farm-to-table movement, luxury travel, entertaining, art and the elegant country lifestyle. Ivy Life & Style Media also provides branding, web design and PR services for the wine industry.