These are buttery, whole-wheat shortbread cookies – fragrant with rosewater, and flecked with toasted nuts, and dried rose petals. They have a crunchy dusting of sugar on top that provides a satisfying, sweet tongue scratch, and are punctuated with black sesame. I’m not going to lie – it took a few attempts to nail them down. As many of you know – dealing with floral flavors can be a bit tricky. But now, as written, they’re oh so tasty.
Shortbread Cookies: Inspiration
These little guys came about when I was tasked with bringing dessert to a friend’s house. She was cooking an impressive Ottolenghi-inspired feast, and I thought these would be a pretty finish. With the rose petals and all. In the years since that dinner they’ve become part of my regular shortbread repertoire, and I make them often for special occasions and holidays. I mean, they’re so pretty and tasty!
Baking with Flowers
The trick with cooking or baking with florals is figuring out how much is too much, and how little is too little. For example, with this shortbread recipe, the first couple of attempts I used dried rose petals only, and a good amount. But the flavor got pushed around a bit, bullied and overpowered by the browning butter.
Second attempt? I gave the rose notes a boost by layering the petals in the dough with a splash of rose water. The dough immediately became more fragrant, balanced, and helped nail what I intended (and hoped for) from the start. I suggest using a bit of caution when baking with rose water, because each bottle seems to vary in strength, quality, and scent. Strictly for reference, I’ll mention that I have been using Nielsen-Massey Rose Water. If you’re unsure about the quality or strength of your rose water, start with half, and taste the dough. You can always adjust with more from there. Trust your senses :)!
These little shortbread cookies are perfect alongside other bite-sized treats on a post-dinner sweets board. I like to break up a good bar of chocolate, include some salted caramels, maybe a few dates, etc. Or you could do a cookie-only sampler, with a range of tiny cookies. There are a lot of favorite cookie recipes to explore, or bake larger cookies, and cut them into quarters so people can sample.