just me

Spiced Shortbread Cookies

In sweets on February 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm

These delicate little cookies have a hardcore following!

In the past, I was never a big fan of shortbread. I thought it was sort of dry and bland – in short, not my favorite Girl-Scout cookie. Thin Mints, however, are. But this is about shortbread.

When I started dating Mr. Gorilla, and we had shared our mutual love for all things edible, we did a great deal of cookie-debate. While I was staunchly in the Double-Stuff Oreo camp, he said there was too much creme. What??? Too…much…how? That can’t possible be – there is no such thing as too much Oreo creme! When I recovered from my apoplectic attack, he explained that his favorite cookie was shortbread. I was puzzled, to say the least. Remember, this is the man who I’ve battled for the last slice of bacon pizza – I know he is not averse to flavor. But I listened patiently while he explained the meritous beauty of  a good shortbread, although I was not convinced. He swore he would convert me.

Over the course of our relationship, he has plied me with cheap shortbread, expensive shortbread, domestic, Irish, English, and Scottish. Now, I will admit that my previous opinion of shortbread has been altered – when done well, with quality ingredients, it can be quite nice. Like the comfort food of cookies. But to me, it still needed a little kick in the pants. So, in a mood to do a little experimentation, I played around with a shortbread recipe I found in my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook until I found a flavor I liked. It’s not overly-spicy – you can still taste the shortbread itself, but there is just a little something in there for your tongue to wrap around. These cookies are also very delicate – very flaky and crumbly. A far cry from the dense shortbread bricks you find in the grocery store. And they go very well with Earl Grey Tea.

Spiced Shortbread Cookies

(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

splash vanilla extract


Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk it to make sure it’s really all combined.

Add the vanilla (just a splash!), and whisk again, until combined.

Cut in the butter until the mixture looks like fine crumbs and starts to cling together.

Form the crumbs into a ball, and knead until smooth. Yes, I know it’s dry and crumbly, but trust me – it will knead, and it will smooth out.

*Note – This is one time where you DON’T want to flour your kneading surface. The flour will mix with the dough, and you’ll lose your delicate flaky texture. This is not a sticky dough, so just knead it on the counter and you’ll be fine.

Roll out dough on parchment to about 1/4 inch thick.

Cut out whatever shapes you like, but dip your cutter in flour every 3-4 cuts. I used a shot glass, but you can use whatever.

You can also dip the tops in sugar before baking, if you so desire.

*Another note – Keep in mind that shortbread doesn’t rise when it bakes – what you put in is what you’ll get out. If you use larger cookie cutters, you may want to roll the dough to be 1/2 inch instead, so it will be less likely to break.

Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes, or until bottoms are light golden brown.


Cool on rack or counter.

Slather with Nutella if desired…


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