Miverva McGonagall's Magical Shortbread Biscuits (Animagus Cookies)

“Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry. Then she said, ‘Have a biscuit, Potter.’”                       

 -Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 

Although Albus Dumbledore’s absolute favorite sweet was Sherbet Lemon, Scottish Shortbread is one of the most popular treats in Great Britain and widely associated with Christmas and Hogmanay festivities in Scotland. 

Biscuit or Cookie?

Aren't biscuits just cookies?  Most of us in the United States are confused. When we think of biscuits, we picture Southern dinner rolls that are served with butter and gravy.    Our friends across the pond, however, think of biscuits as sweet, crumbly treats.  I've visited the UK several times, and admit that their biscuits do resemble cookies.  But, this seems the case in my experience:  biscuits are always crunchy.  Generally, our homemade cookies are soft, chewy, and have a lot more  ingredients in them.  

I assure you, whether you call them biscuits or cookies, sip tea or drink milk with them, the results are still the same-- pure and absolute deliciousness.  

Cats and Magical Creatures: Summon Your Own

It is no surprise that Mrs. McGonagall, whose animagus is a cat,   fancies her biscuits in the shape of felines.  You may prefer to cut your biscuits into your animagus or patronus.  Cool, right?  Of course, you can never go wrong with a simple witch's hat. 

So Easy A Child Can Make Them 

I started cooking when I was ten years old, and this shortbread recipe  was  the first I tried.  They are so simple because they only require a few ingredients, ones that we usually have on hand --butter, flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla.  The beauty of this dough is that it can be made days ahead of time and chilled for several weeks after.   Because of its simplicity, these biscuit-cookies are a go-to recipe at the Tasty Cauldron house, year-round.

Ready to bake some magic?



3½ ­cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt 

3 sticks (1 ½ cups) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

Unique cookie cutters



1 cup powdered sugar 

4 teaspoons milk

1 teaspoon lemon juice (you won't taste it) 

Food coloring


Step One 

In a medium bowl, sift flour and salt. Set aside. 

Step Two

Using a mixer, blend together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Add vanilla and mix well.  

Step Three

Slowly add flour mixture, about a half cup at a time.  Mix until the dough is formed.   

Step Four

Dump on a floured surface and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.  

Step Five

Preheat oven to 350 F. degrees. 

Roll dough ½-inch thick and cut out into magical shapes. The dough will crack, but that's okay--just pat it back together.  

Place biscuits on an un-greased baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. 

Step Six 

When your little lovelies are cool, ice and decorate them.  You can use the simple icing recipe I've provided, your own buttercream icing, or even dip them in melted chocolate.  Many times, I just go traditional and serve them plain.  

They're just that good.  



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