If you live in Toronto, “Mary Macleod’s Shortbread” is a name that you’ve probably heard of, before. And with darned good reason. Mary Macleod’s is more than shortbread company. It’s a Toronto landmark. An institution, even. With 36 years of proud shortbread-making history (Whoa Nelly that is a lot of shortbread cookies) they’ve turned shortbread into something incredible. And in case you’re wondering- yes, Mary Macleod was a real person! Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Mary learned to bake from her mother and grandmother. She then founded Mary Macleod’s Shortbread Company in 1981 and turned it into a household name long before her passing in 2016. Nevertheless, her legendary cookies live on. The secret recipe for her delicious cookies have been passed down for generations, and now the secret remains closely-guarded by Sharon, Mary’s daughter-in-law.
So, what makes these cookies so special that Toronto keeps drooling for more? For starters, Mary Macleod’s team pride themselves on using high-quality ingredients, and all orders are handmade into small batches. It’s like a craft beer-inspired approach to baking. And it works marvelously. Because when they say good quality ingredients, they mean it. Real butter, premium Canadian flours, Belgian chocolate, and only freshly-harvested nuts.
When you think of “shortbread cookies”, you might only think of the traditional, buttered flavour. But Mary Macleod’s team have breathed new life into the shortbread biscuit concept and have thought of every flavour, each one more memorable than the last. Observe!
The flavours of the cookies are so well-balanced. They are so much unlike any shortbread cookies that you’d get from a store-bought tin box. The high-quality ingredients give them a unique and refined, but still delicate, taste. The buttery flavour is just superb. When you have a craving for something sweet, this will satisfy that craving right away. Yes, there is real butter in these cookies! But Mary Macleod’s Shortbread conjured some sort of Hogwarts-style charms so they don’t feel heavy or punishing at all. Their texture is uniquely light and fluffy. Shortbreadium leviosa!
And they’re always innovating. One of their latest (but nearly done) creations: a new gluten-free shortbread cookie. Usually, gluten-free treats aren’t known for being the best-tasting (sacrificing and substituting ingredients has all sorts of effects on food). And oftentimes the elimination of gluten affects the texture in a strange way. But I had the pleasure of trying one of Mary Macleod’s gluten-free cookies, and I’m convinced that they have found the secret to making gluten-free food amazing! While the texture is a little bit different from a traditional shortbread cookie (not necessary a bad thing), the flavour is spot-on. If I didn’t know that I was tasting a gluten-free shortbread, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.
And that is why Mary Macleod’s has become an irreplaceable fixture in Toronto. They just do shortbread cookies so darned well. I am happy to see Mary’s secret recipe live on, and there will always be a shortbread-shaped hole in my stomach for their cookies. These cookies are baked with so much love, and you can taste it in each and every bite. Drop by their website and order online, or stop by their quaint store at 639 Queen Street East in Toronto. Treat ‘yo self.
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram (@joyceofcooking)! Because we’ll be giving away some Mary Macleod’s Cookies in August! I can’t wait!