Lilac Shortbread Cookies

Lilacs aren’t just beautiful to behold, their delicate blossoms hold a hidden treasure – a subtle, sweet flavor that elevates simple desserts to extraordinary heights. In these lilac shortbread cookies, these little petals add a touch of springtime sweetness.

close up image of lilac shortbread cookies in vintage frame surrounded by edible moss cookies

why you’ll love this recipe:

The pairing of lilac and shortbread is a fragrant delight for your senses. The buttery crumblyiness complements the gentle scent while also adding an interesting twist to this traditional cookie recipe! These lilac shortbread cookies are photographed alongside some garnished with our edible moss.

Are lilacs edible?

Lilacs are edible, part of the olive family. And we have some favorite ways to enjoy them. If you have the opportunity, spend a very beautiful day hand-plucking each individual flower off their stem and soak them in a bath of cream to let the flowers infuse into a floral milk for the cake and buttercream. The precious liquid can then be turned into creamy and dreamy lattes, buttercreams, like for our lilac cake and lilac ice cream. Or infused into a floral sugar, like lilac brown sugar. Or preserved in a raw local honey, like in this lilac honey recipe.

If you haven’t tried baking with flowers, this is the perfect place to start. Once you try you will be so pleasantly surprised with the outcome you’ll want to make them over and over again. 

Identifying and harvesting lilac:

Lilac has glossy, heart-shaped leaves, smooth bark. It displays spikes of densely packed, small, pale flowers that have a sweet smell. (Source) You want to be using lilacs grown organically. Read my post on the best edible flowers to grow in your garden. If it’s grown on your property and hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides, it’s safe to use. Avoid lilac that you’re uncertain about, or purchased from the grocery store. Read all about Where to buy or find edible flowers for cookies and cakes to learn about best practices for sourcing flowers you’ll use in food.

Where to find lilac:

You want to be using lilacs grown organically. Read my post on the best edible flowers to grow in your garden. If it’s grown on your property and hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides, it’s safe to use. Avoid lilac that you’re uncertain about, or purchased from the grocery store. Read all about Where to buy or find edible flowers for cookies and cakes to learn about best practices for sourcing flowers you’ll use in food.

mortar and pestle on white marble surface with white sugar and lilac flowers

Expert tip:

Gift these lilac shortbread cookies with some lilac honey and a freshly cut bundle of lilacs for the happiest recipient ever.

Edible Flower Resources:

close up image of lilac shortbread cookies in vintage frame surrounded by edible moss cookies

Lilac Shortbread Cookie

Lilacs aren't just beautiful to behold, their delicate blossoms hold a hidden treasure – a subtle, sweet flavor that elevates simple desserts to extraordinary heights. In these lilac shortbread cookies, these little petals adds touch of springtime sweetness.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Serving Size 24 shortbread cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened unsalted 225 grams
  • ½ cup powdered sugar 60 grams
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup corn starch 68 grams
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour 260 grams
  • 1 tablespoon organic dried lilac
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Make a lilac sugar using a mortar, pestle, blender, or food processor. Grind your lilacs with granulated sugar and vanilla extract until it’s a well-combined powder.
  • Cream the butter, lilac, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Combine the flour, salt, and cornstarch in a separate bowl until well blended.
  • Sift the flour mixture into your creamed butter; you will likely need to use your hands to form a ball. The dough will be somewhat soft.
  • Cover your dough and refrigerate for about 10 minutes while you preheat the oven; this will let the butter harden up and make it more manageable when rolling and cutting.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C).
  • Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.
  • Cut into rectangles 1 ½x2 inches in size or cut into shapes using a cookie cutter.
  • Place cookies 1 inch apart on the lined cookie sheets
  • Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until golden at the edges.
  • Cool on wire racks, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes

We recommend sifting flour for all baked goods to break up any clumps. It’s especially a good idea in this in a recipe like this that has such few ingredients. However, if you don’t have a sifter, you can skip this step.
Shortbread contains a high amount of butter, so if you find your shortbread too soft, try chilling the bars before baking. This will allow the butter to harden.
Forking shortbread is not necessary, but it prevents the butter from bubbling. Pricking your shortbread also gives it that signature Scottish shortbread cookie design!
Because shortbreads have a high fat content, they must be handled carefully to prevent crumbling. To store, arrange your cookies in a single layer, adding a piece of parchment or waxed paper between layers.
Shortbread cookies keep longer than most other cookies, making them perfect for edible gifts or when you need to make something ahead. They even taste better the next day or two after you bake them! They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.

Frequently asked questions:

Should you sift flour when making shortbread?

We recommend sifting flour for all baked goods to break up any clumps. It’s especially a good idea in this in a recipe like this that has such few ingredients. However, if you don’t have a sifter, you can skip this step.

Why is my shortbread too soft?

Shortbread contains a high amount of butter, so if you find your shortbread too soft, try chilling the bars before baking. This will allow the butter to harden. 

Do I need to poke holes in my shortbread with a fork?

Forking shortbread is not necessary, but it prevents the butter from bubbling. Pricking your shortbread also gives it that signature Scottish shortbread cookie design!

How should I store shortbread cookies?

Because shortbreads have a high fat content, they must be handled carefully to prevent crumbling. To store, arrange your cookies in a single layer, adding a piece of parchment or waxed paper between layers.

How long will shortbread last?

Shortbread cookies keep longer than most other cookies, making them perfect for edible gifts or when you need to make something ahead. They even taste better the next day or two after you bake them! They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.

More botanical shortbread:

So, there you have it! These elegant lilac shortbread cookies are a delightful symphony of taste and aroma, perfect for welcoming spring’s embrace. With their simple ingredients and easy preparation, they invite frolic in the kitchen and create little edible pieces of happiness.

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