Spiced Shortbread

Serves 18-20 cookies 1 January 2022 Vegetarian Friendly
Well, that was a year……. The year I faced undoubtedly the hardest times of my life.  The year filled with love, devoted friendship, immeasurable support, kindness and a hefty dose of magic.   Thank you all for the love and for riding the waves with me.

Thankfully the coast is looking clearer for 2022 and I am heading into this year with no resolutions, but with hope, some restored energy, a full and calmer heart and excited to share the ideas that were busy marinading as I weathered the storm.  

Here’s my New Year’s gift of thanks. I can think of no better way to show my gratitude than with something delicately sweet and warmly spiced to share with those you love. An ideal accompaniment to a cup of coffee or to accessorise a bowl of ice cream, these shortbread rounds are a little comfort treat to enjoy any time of the day.  

A little warning before embarking on your baking adventure: while simple and deceptively quick to throw together, they are not an instant gratification situation. The dough needs time to rest in the fridge and like the best of us, these mature with age, reaching peak deliciousness on about day 3/4 (but will last for at least a week if you can show restraint).  The hidden gem here is these shortbread also make the perfect gifting solution (home made treats for the win).

Wishing you a happy, sweet and healthy 2022. I hope this year bring us all a little peace and togetherness.  Thank you for the love and for staying the course with me as I navigated through the turbulence.  Here’s to supporting each other through it all.  



Side note confession: these cookies are not a completely original idea.  They are my winter 2021/2022 adaptation of an old favourite, buckwheat cacao nib cookies. Shaking up the flavours with seasonal spices and little sugary crunch on the outside, I love making these with ground almonds mixed into the flour, but they are also very good nut free when required.    

Cacao nibs give a very special crunch to these delicate discs with an exquisite chocolate hint while not spiking up the sweetness.  If you don’t have any to hand, use the darkest chocolate in your stash, hand chopped into beautifully imperfect little pieces.

A little orange zest would add an extra zing to these beauties, but would shorten their shelf life a little.  Add the finely zested rind of half an orange to the sugar and mix with your fingertips to release the oils before mixing into the butter for full flavour punch.

Spiced Shorbread Cookies

  • 200g (7oz) room temperature butter (I always use salted but any butter works)
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 50g (1/4 cup) soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 80g (1/3 cup) cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g (2/3 cup) ground almonds
  • 150g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
  • 1/2tsp salt (increase to 3/4 tsp if using unsalted butter)
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (or the crushed seeds from 4 pods)
  • 2-3 tbsp Demerara sugar (or as much as needed) to coat the cookie rolls

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the ground almonds, flour, salt and spices and set aside

In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter, the sugar and salt (if using) together until smooth and creamy.  Stop before it gets fluffy.  Add the egg if using and beat to incorporate.

Mix in the cacao nibs followed by the vanilla extract

Add the dry mixture and beat until just combined.  I like to bring the dough all together with my hands at the end.  

Divide into two halves, and form each piece of dough into a log (approximately 20cm x 5cm) on a piece of parchment.  Sprinkle with Demerara sugar to coat the log and and roll the parchment around it, securing the ends like a candy.

Rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight and up to 3 days or in the freezer for a couple of hours if you are short on resting time or keep a stash in there for 3 months for emergency cookie making moments.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180C (350F). 

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

When the oven has reached temperature, remove the dough from the fridge and allow to rest at room temperature for 5 minutes (max) so you can cut through it easily.

With a sharp knife cut the dough into rounds, and place spaced apart on the prepared sheets. Each log should give you 12-15 cookies depending on the circumference.  

Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are slightly golden and just beginning to colour.  

Cool on baking sheets on a rack, and store in an airtight container for at least 1 week if they last that long…..

Have you made this dish?

Let me know what you think, share your efforts and any tweaks you made to the recipe on Instagram, don’t forget to tag #BuildingFeasts or email me on info@buildingfeasts.com