Rosewater Shortbread Cookies

Rosewater Shortbread Cookies

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.Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe

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!
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe

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 :)!
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe

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.

Rosewater Shortbread Cookies

5 from 3 votes

As far as dried rose petals go, I typically dry my own from unsprayed roses I buy at the farmers market. I've seen them available in Mexican grocers, and also if you search around online you can find them. Also, they're a very pretty component to these cookies, but if you had to leave them out, and rely on the rose water only, they'd still be delicious.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup / 4.5 oz / 130 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Scant 1 cup / 4.5 oz / 130g whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup / 1 oz / 30 g lightly toasted, sliced, pecans
  • 1 tablespoon dried rose petals, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g sugar
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • large grain sugar, for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. In a separate medium bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar, salt and rosewater, until smooth and creamy, about a minute. Add the flour mixture and mix until barely combined. Scrape the dough into a ball, and if you feel like it needs to come together a bit more, knead it once or twice on the counter top, or until it is smooth. Shape into a round, flat patty shape wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for a couple hours, or overnight.
  2. About fifteen minutes before you're ready to stamp out your cookie shapes, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350F / 180C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Roll the dough out 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured counter top, and stamp into desired shapes. You can collect and roll out dough scraps as well, after your first round of stamping. If the dough gets too warm, put it back in the refrigerator for a bit. Place the cookies at least an inch apart on a prepared baking sheets, sprinkle each cookie with a combination of large-grain sugar, rose petals and sesame seeds, then chill them one last time in the freezer for another ten minutes.
  4. Bake until the cookies are golden at the edges, 13 to 15 minutes, but watch them closely. It's more about coloring than time here. Rotate the sheets back to front about 9 minutes in. Remove from the oven and after a minute or two transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.
  5. Store leftovers in a big jar, they keep beautifully for days. The recipe makes dozens of tiny cookies, the yield really depends on the size of your cookie cutter.
Serves
48
Prep Time
1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
1 hr 55 mins
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • I love rosewater cookies as well!! I always have a bottle in the fridge and used dried rose petals once but wasn't crazy for the texture. Also look up "jalaab" its a drink that has a bit of rosewater in it..really nice!

    Samantha @FerraroKitchen
  • Oh these are just gorgeous! I hardly use flowers in baking, but these have me re-thinking that decision : )

    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
  • These look perfect for my holiday party - a nice sweet bite but delicate and sophisticated. Can't wait to try.

    Alice Dishes
  • These are beautiful Heidi. I agree, it's difficult to get the right amount of flavor when working with florals. If you put too much rose water the product can end up tasting like potpourri. These would be perfect for a wedding or baby shower.

    Linda @ Veganosity
  • these are gorgeous! i can already taste them in my mind. been looking for something elegant and a little different for gift giving, and this is perfect. thank you heidi!

    Leah
  • These would be so pretty at a wedding as well!

    Barb Bamber
  • I love the flavors you used for your cookies Heidi! They must be delicious. And, frankly, I'd much rather have some of these than the same old Christmas cookies. A bit or originality never hurt anyone :) Thanks for sharing them!

    Magda
  • How are these not appropriate for the holiday season?! They are a refreshing change on a classic. I love rosewater in sweets but I've never used it in shortbread and can't wait to do so!

    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
  • This looks so lovely! Ever since having our second child, we have precious little time for cooking -- looking forward to more "quick and easy" weeknight recipes :) !

    Liz J
  • These are so beautiful, Heidi! Can you give a source for the dried rose petals?

    HS: Hi Marisa, I'll go add a reference in the headnotes, but in short I typically dry my own from unsprayed roses I buy at the farmers market. I've seen them available in Mexican grocers, and also if you search around online you can find them.

    Marisa Bulzone
  • These cookies sound delightful and look beautiful! I am Persian and a lot of the food I grew up eating - especially the deliciously aromatic rice dishes, were always made with rosewater (and of course, saffron). I am a huge fan of your work for many reasons, but one of my favorites is seeing the way you incorporate the traditional flavors that I'm so accustomed to in such contemporary ways.

    Yalda
  • Yum, they look amazing!! Would love to try these. Where can I purchase dried rose petals?

    Jacque
  • I don't know how I happened upon these mouthwatering cookies. Here I am and now I will be craving them until I can find the time to make them!!! Just the loveliest delectable edibles I think I have ever seen.

    jennylee
  • These look exquisite Heidi, I need to get me some rosewater to give these bad boys a try!

    Mike @TheIronYou
  • These biscuits looks like those you see and hear about in the fairy tales, they are so pretty! Thanks for the recipe :) x

    Julie @ WolfItDown
  • This is art! Art biscuits!! (I'm an Aussie and we don't say 'cookies') but even so! You are such a brilliant artist!! Thank you!!

    Sheila
  • Where do you buy rose water?

    HS: Hi Louise - you can typically find it in the baking section of grocery stores (near the vanilla), or in middle eastern, or "ethnic" aisles....Basically, you might have to hunt around a bit, or ask - alternately, you can order it online.

    Louise
  • These look absolutely divine! I can't help but notice how perfect all of your photos are either - how do you do it? xx

    Jodi Duncan
  • These look STUNNING. I grew up with rosewater cookies, so this is like a modern twist. I love the crushed rose petals on top. :] // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

    ~ Carmen ~
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