Written By – Joseph Scaglione
Carl Strygg’s journey into shortbread cookies started on the dance-floor. As a National Ballet School student, Carl baked batches of shortbread cookies each Christmas as gifts for family and friends. Carl could not afford anything fancy, but people loved his shortbread. He followed his Mother’s simple recipe; butter, flour, and brown sugar. The butter and the oven needed to set to an exact temperature to perfect the cookie.
Carl experimented after discovering new textures and flavours in other recipe’s, especially his good friend Adrienne’s. Like a scientist, Carl experimented until he found a recipe highlighting the best traits from previous recipes. He developed a crisp cookie, not too sweet, with a “meltingly tender heart,” as Cynthia David from Food & Drink Magazine describes.
Completing his studies in 1986 Carl studied further into Opera singing which brought him to New York. While homesick one Christmas, Carl cooked a batch of shortbread. His landlord tried one, not knowing Carl was the mastermind, and asked where he could buy them. Carl admitted the shortbreads are homemade and his landlord insisted he sell them in stores. The landlord himself owned a store in Trump Tower. Carl sampled them in store and customers asked where to buy them. He made a large batch and approached another store in Trump Tower, getting his cookies into that store and eight others on Fifth Avenue. Carl could not keep up as his time in New York was coming to an end, so he brought his blossoming business to Toronto.
Carl, with the help of his sister, began racking up Toronto retail clients. He also sold his cookies at the One of A Kind Show, which allowed him to connect with customers personally. Below are some of the many shortbread offerings from Coach House, including savoury options. To learn more visit http://www.shortbread.ca/homepage.html
Carl’s best selling flavour made with unsalted butter, pastry flour, cornstarch, icing sugar and sea salt. The simple and traditional roots are perfect for shortbread lovers.
Take the original, add some lemon zest, and you have a shortbread with a light lemon zip, not sour or strong, just right.
These shortbreads offer coarsely chopped fresh pecans, offering a smooth as butter pecan flavour, which the aded pinch of sea salt reveals.
For a cookie with a little colour, the Cranberry shortbread shows off the tartness of cranberry which pairs well with the original shortbread recipe, and the red colour is fitting for the holidays.
Spicy Asiago & Garlic Shortbread
Not flavours one typically associates with shortbread, more fitting for croutons. This cookie features asiago cheese with oven-roasted garlic and chilli peppers, giving the biscuit a little kick. A must try!
Sadly, Carl died on May 10, 2014. The business is now headed by his partner Will, who is carrying on the business his partner spent 28 years building.