I made these cookies a few weeks ago, right when spring had officially sprung in Portland and the city was finally bursting with sunshine and fresh flowers. But since then, the weather has turned gray and rainy (everyday, yikes), which makes the “spring celebration” vibe I’d planned for this post a little debatable. Oh well. They’re still pretty cute, right?
These cookies are inspired by Craftsman and Wolves’ shortbread cookies, as seen in this beautiful spread by Bon Appetit magazine. Craftsman and Wolves is a fancy patisserie in San Francisco known for that cornbread muffin with the runny sunny side egg inside (it’s so famous that it even has its own name—The Rebel Within). I used to live a stone’s throw away from their location on Valencia Street and, whenever folks were in town, I’d always insist on meeting them there so that we could split The Rebel Within and one of their $12 pastries.
Although I never saw the flower shortbread cookies on sale, I think about them every time I see cakes decorated with flowers. Most flowers on cakes are inedible and need to be plucked off before eating; I really appreciated that Craftsman and Wolves used edible flowers for their cookies. For these cookies, I used a mix of cornflowers, calendula flowers, and radish flowers, as well as rose and lilac petals. Although my cookies look as fancy as theirs, they’re actually a touch more simple—I’ve eschewed the shortbread dough for my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and flavored the entire thing with rose water. Enjoy!
Some baker’s notes:
- Although Craftsman and Woves uses dried flowers for their cookies, I used a mix of both dried (cornflowers and rose petals) and fresh flowers (everything else) for mine. Dried flower petals are available at herb and spice stores—Kalustyan’s has a great selection online (but it helps to know what you’re looking for since their browsing experience isn’t the best). I sourced the fresh flowers from our garden and the Portland Farmers’ Market.
- For this recipe, be sure to use rose water and NOT rose extract. Rose extract is much more concentrated, and will be too intense and floral in this recipe. In a pinch, you can use rose extract, but I suggest halving the recipe quantities if you do. Rose water is available in Middle Eastern grocery stores and specialty food markets.
- To stamp out the cookies, I used cutters from this fluted circle set—I used a 3-inch cutter for the big circles and a 3/4-inch cutter for the small circles.
Spring Flower Sugar Cookies
For the Rose Water Sugar Cookies
- 3 1/3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons rose water (see baker's notes)
For the Rose Water Glaze
- 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted if lumpy
- a pinch of kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more if needed
- 1 teaspoon rose water (see baker's notes)
- edible flowers (see baker's notes)
For the Rose Water Sugar Cookies
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low, add the egg and rose water, and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Increase the mixer to medium-low and beat until the dough clumps around the paddle and/or sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Tip the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper around the size of a sheet pan and use your hands to shape it into a roughly 6-inch square. Place a second sheet of parchment over the dough, creating a parchment sandwich with the dough in the middle. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough between the parchment sheets, working from left to right. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat every so often—doing so will help prevent the dough from cracking as you roll it. If the parchment starts to wrinkle and leave creases in the cookie dough, pull the sheet loose and smooth it before rolling the dough more. Continue rotating and rolling until you have a rough oval about 13 inches wide, 18 inches long, and between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.
- Transfer the slab of cookie dough, still in between the parchment, to a sheet pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm the dough.
- Once the dough is firm, remove from the refrigerator. Peel the top layer of parchment paper from the cookie dough slab and use the parchment to line a sheet pan. Line a second sheet pan with parchment as well.
- Use a 3-inch fluted cookie cutter to cut out shapes, and a smaller 1-inch fluted cookie cutter cut out a second circle with each cookie. Gather any cookie dough scraps, re-roll between two parchment paper sheets (with the instructions in step 4), and use the cookie cutters to stamp out shapes as many times as necessary to use all the dough. Place the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared sheet pans.
- Freeze each sheet pan for 10 to 15 minutes to firm the cookies. While the sheet pans are in the freezer, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 (F).
- Bake one pan at a time (keeping the pan in the refrigerator) for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges. Cool the cookies on the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are set and feel firm to the touch. Repeat to bake the remaining cookies. Cool completely before glazing.
For the Rose Water Glaze and Assembly
- In a medium bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and salt and whisk to combine. Slowly pour in heavy cream and rose water, using a rubber spatula to stir the liquids into the sugar to make a glaze. The glaze should be thick like a paste, but thin enough so that the cookies don't break or snap when dipped into the glaze. Add more cream as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
- Working quickly, dip the top of a cookie into the glaze and set on a wire rack. Immediately sprinkle with edible flowers. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Allow the glazed cookies to dry on the wire rack, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.