Botanical Shortbread Cookies
A dessert that’s easy to whip up but looks mega impressive? We’ve found the answer: flower shortbread cookies. Violets, pansies, roses and lavender are all edible and easy to find, but if you’re looking for a fancier selection, order from a specialty store like Gourmet Sweet Botanicals. There’s no need to dry and press the blossoms before baking. Just use egg wash to glue the flowers to slice-and-bake shortbread cookies and they’ll flatten in the oven.
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
30 small edible flowers
Sugar (preferably superfine), as needed for finishing
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla; mix to combine, about 1 minute more. Add the flour and salt; mix just until combined.
3. Prepare a piece of parchment paper about 12 inches long. Turn the cookie dough out onto the parchment and form it into a rough log along one long side of the paper. Use the paper to help form the dough into a rounded log shape, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in the parchment paper. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and chill for 1½ hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. Use a sharp knife to cut the cookie dough into ⅓-inch-thick slices. Transfer the slices to the prepared baking sheets, staggering them and leaving at least ½ inch between cookies.
6. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white with 1 tablespoon cool water. Working a few at a time, brush the surface of the cookies with the egg wash and then place a flower in the center. Gently brush the cookie again with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Bake the cookies, rotating the sheets from front to back and top to bottom at the halfway mark, until the surface appears set and they are evenly golden brown on the bottom (they won’t brown on top, so use a spatula to lift a cookie and check), 13 to 15 minutes. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets.