Rose Water Shortbread

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Spelt flour has less gluten than all-purpose, which gives these cookies a light texture.


  • 2 cups spelt or einkorn flour, plus more for dusting
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Special Equipment

  • A 2½-inch-diameter fluted cookie cutter

Recipe Preparation

  • Whisk salt and 2 cups flour in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and ¾ cup sugar until well combined (butter does not need to be fluffy), about 3 minutes. Beat in egg. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in dry ingredients. Divide dough in half and pat into two ¾"-thick disks; wrap in plastic. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

  • Whisk remaining ¼ cup sugar with ¼ cup hot water in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rose water; set aside.

  • Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Working one at a time, let dough disks sit at room temperature about 5 minutes to soften slightly. Roll out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, dusting with more flour and chilling to firm if it becomes too hard to work with, until about ⅛" thick. Punch out cookies with cutter; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1" apart. Gently press 3 pistachios into each cookie. (Bonus: Snack on any leftover pistachios.)

  • Bake cookies until golden brown, 10–12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; lightly brush with reserved rose water mixture (you won’t use all of it). Let cool completely.

  • Do Ahead: Dough can be made 1 month ahead. Freeze instead of chilling.

Recipe by Evin and Evrim Dogu, Sub Rosa Bakery, Richmond, VA

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 110Fat (g) 4Saturated Fat (g) 1.5Cholesterol (mg) 15Carbohydrates (g) 16Dietary Fiber (g) 2Total Sugars (g) 9Protein (g) 2Sodium (mg) 25Reviews Section

These gluten-free rice flour cookies are scented with rosewater and topped with a sprinkle of poppy seeds.

Make your own candied rose petals to top this elegant cardamom-laced cake.

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1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt. 2. Add the rose water and vanilla paste, continue to mix until thoroughly combined. 3. Turn down the speed and add the flour. Let the mixer run until the flour is fully incorporated into the butter. 4. Scrape the dough down the sides of the bowl and onto a piece of parchment paper. Form into a log and roll until smooth and roughly the size of a paper towel tube. Be sure to press the ends flat, too. To make a smoother dough log, use the parchment paper to roll the dough back and forth. Wrap the dough up in the parchment paper, twist the ends, and freeze on a flat surface for at least an hour (the more frozen the dough the more the cookies will retain their shape while baking). 5. Set the oven to 325 degrees. Once the dough is frozen, remove from freezer, unwrap, and slice into 1/4 inch thick coins. Place on a lined baking sheet and dot with a single sprinkle. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until just barely golden on the edges (these are best slightly underdone). Cool the cookies on the pan then store in an airtight container. Serve with tea and a declaration of love, or not. Cooks' note: These shortbread cookies take less time to prep and cook, but need at least an entire hour to chill in the freezer for the perfect cookie!

Pistachio (or Almond)-Rosewater Shortbread

When I’m at my island home-away-from-home where the über-fragrant Rugosa Rose grows with abandon on every roadside, I infuse the butter and sugar in this recipe with the real deal: the flower petals themselves. But, alas, not everyone is lucky enough to have fresh roses available for flavoring, even during their growing season. So I’m giving you my shortcut version, a recipe from my book Ultimate Cookies, that calls for readymade rosewater instead. Though if you’d like to start with the petals, see my tips for modifying this recipe in Step 4.

Yield: About 2 dozen (2 1/2-inch-diameter) cookies

Prep Talk: For easiest handling, chill the dough 1 to 2 hours before rolling and cutting. If chilled longer, the dough will get quite firm and can be difficult to roll straight from the fridge. In this case, let it sit wrapped, at room temperature for 15 minutes or more, until it becomes workable. The dough can also be frozen one month or more with minimal loss of flavor if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. Note: The use of superfine (or confectioner’s) sugar makes this shortbread more delicate than all-granulated sugar renditions.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shelled salted pistachios (with the skins rubbed off) or blanched slivered almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted superfine (or confectioner’s) sugar
  • About 1 teaspoon rosewater (Add gradually and to taste, as different brands vary in their flavoring intensity.)
  • About 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top (optional)

1 | Mix the dough. Combine the flour, pistachios (or almonds), and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the nuts are finely ground but not pasty. Place the softened butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to bring the ingredients together then beat on medium to medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the rosewater. Gradually blend in the flour-nut mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed, to ensure even mixing.

2 | Chill the dough. Flatten the dough into a disk (about 1/2 inch thick, to ensure more rapid and even chilling) and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until firm enough to roll without sticking. Alternatively, flatten the disk even thinner and pop in the freezer to accelerate the chilling process.

3 | Roll, cut, and bake the shortbread. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line 2 or more cookie sheets with parchment paper (or silicone baking mats) and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut out assorted shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Using an offset spatula (to minimize distortion of the cutouts), carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them no less than 3/4 inch apart. If you don’t plan to ice these cookies, sprinkle them evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom and firm to the touch, or about 25 to 30 minutes for 2 1/2-inch rounds.(Baking time will vary with cookie size and thickness.)

Immediately transfer the cookies to wire racks using an offset spatula to prevent breakage. Cool completely before frosting (if desired) and/or containing for storage. (If cookies are contained while still warm, they will usually soften.)

4 | Notes for using the real deal (and follow-along via photos 2 through 5, right). Start a day or two ahead by containing about 1 cup loosely packed rose petals (rinsed and pesticide-free, of course) with the sugars in an airtight container. The fragrance of the petals will slowly make its way into the sugar. However, the sugar will also get lumpy, so it will need to be sifted to remove the petals and lumps before use.

Also melt about 1 1/4 cups butter (more than called for in the basic recipe) and add about 4 to 5 cups loosely packed rose petals to the butter while it is warm. Let the petals sit in the butter until it has cooled, so that any residual heat works as long as possible to extract the petals’ essential oils. Re-melt the butter if it has solidified and strain out the rose petals. Be sure to squeeze the petals firmly to remove any retained butter. (Some butter will invariably get lost in this process, which is why I start with more than 1 cup.) Measure out 1 cup butter then chill it until solidified, but still soft. Proceed to make the recipe above, substituting the rose-sugar and -butter as the regular ingredients are called for. The store-bought rosewater can be omitted, unless you’re a rose fanatic and want to further amp up the flavor.

Rugosa Rose Syrup

For some, summer in New England is marked by early morning wake-up calls from fishing boats revving up…

Rose Water Shortbread - Recipes

1. Cream together butter and sugar with electric mixer. Beat in rose water for a few seconds. Whisk together flours, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt in separate bowl, and beat into butter in two batches, until just combined. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap and press into a disk. Wrap and chill in freezer, 30 minutes.

2. Unwrap dough and lay in middle of a large piece of plastic wrap or wax paper. Fold wrap or paper over dough and form into a log approximately 10 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches in diameter, then square off the long sides to form a bar. Chill in refrigerator until dough is very firm, at least 2 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice bar into cookies 1/4 inch thick and place on prepared baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Press pinch of pistachios into each cookie.

4. Bake cookies until bottoms are just golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool on pans 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks. Cookies can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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!

Rose shortbread recipe


  • 210g plain flour
  • 100g cool salted butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1tsp rose water
  • 1tsp-1tbsp rose petals

(If you have a dough blade for your food processor put it in now.)
Put all of the flour into a food processor. Crush the rose petals roughly in your hand add to the flour.

Process for about 10 seconds until the petals are evenly distributed through the flour.

Dice the butter into small chunks and add to your food processor.

Add the vanilla and rose water and process the mixture until it just comes together. If the mixture doesn’t come together, add a little ice water a teaspoon at a time.

Take out the dough, wrap in cling film and refridgerate for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 180C

Cut a piece of baking/parchment paper cut to fit the size of your baking tray. Lightly sprinkle with flour and roll out your dough onto it to a thickness of 5mm.

Use a round cutter to cut out biscuit rounds, make sure they aren’t too close together as they spread slightly whilst baking.

Lift off the extra pieces around the rounds, re-wrap and put back in the fridge. I needed to do this twice with my baking tray to finish up all the dough.

Bake the shortbread for 10-15 mins until the edges start to lightly brown.

You should end up with something like this:

If you are a bit vanilla, just leave out the rose water and petals and you’ll have a recipe for all butter shortbread. Or try substituting in some brown sugar and adding some cinnamon for a spiced winter shortbread.

Rose & Dark Chocolate Shortbread

  • preparation 25 minutes plus chilling and cooling
  • cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 20

​Shortbread is brilliantly adaptable – you can add so many different flavours to it and create something new. Here, we’ve included rose and given the biscuits a chocolate coating, a combination that works beautifully.

  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • ½-1 tsp rose water (rose water can vary in intensity, so add just a little at a time)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients dried rose petals, plus extra to decorate (or similar)
  • 200g dark chocolate

Put the butter, sugar, lemon zest, rose water (to taste) and vanilla in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat together for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Scrape the bowl down and add the flour, a pinch of salt and the rose petals, mixing together briefly until it comes together as a dough. Tip the dough onto the work surface and bring together into a ball.

Flatten with your hands, then roll out to a 25cm square place on a baking tray and chill until firm – about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170˚C, gas mark 3 line 2 baking trays with parchment. Halve the dough, then cut into 2.5cm-thick fingers and pierce all over with a fork.

Put the biscuits on the prepared baking trays and bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts until about ¾ of the chocolate has melted. Mix vigorously with a spatula until fully melted (this is a quick method of tempering the chocolate).

Dip the shortbread halfway into the chocolate, allow the excess to drip off, then lay on a clean sheet of parchment to set, decorating with a few extra rose petals.

Once the chocolate has set, you can store the shortbread in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


The beauty of making shortbread cookies is they contain a few ingredients, and they are so simple to make. Because this recipe uses rice flour they are also gluten-free.

  • Rice flour
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cardamom
  • Butter
  • Butter
  • Egg
  • Rosewater
  • Rose petals/rosebuds

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This shortbread recipe combines both rosewater and rose petals that result in tender and pretty cookies, perfect with tea, a cappuccino, or even a light wine. I know you are thinking why buy a whole bottle of rose water for one recipe, well I’m here to tell you there are lots of uses for rose water, the list can be endless. I’ll share some uses later.

First, let’s talk about the cookie. When I made these shortbread’s I happened to have little rosebuds that I bought from a tea shop in San Francisco. We brew the rosebuds for tea, and occasionally I use these for recipes. You can buy the rosebuds at Vital Leaf Tea . Or you can use rose petals which are much easier to use since they don’t have the hard bud in them. Just make sure your rose petals are food grade.

All other kinds of topping can be used for these dainty little cookies from coarse sugar, colored icing, pistachios, poppy seeds, white chocolate or maybe just put a pretty stamp on top. When you make the cookies, you get to decide what goes on top.

How to make Rose Shortbread Cookies:

  • The rose on top is made using a cookie stamp. There are lots of designs available. I use a stamp with a Christmas tree to make holiday shortbread cookies.
  • The main key to making the &ldquopaint&rdquo is to let the egg white age at least a day before painting the cookies. As egg whites age they liquify, making it easier to paint on the cookies without globbing up (that&rsquos a technical pastry term).
  • Scoop the foam from the surface with a spoon and you&rsquoll have a nice clear paint that&rsquos easy to brush onto the cookies.
  • I flavor these cookies with a hint of rosewater to complete the theme. The strength of rose water can vary pretty widely so I suggest putting in the lesser amount listed in the recipe, then taste the dough to see if you want more. I love the flavor of rosewater, but a little goes along way.
  • Put the prepared cookies in the refrigerator to chill before baking. Putting cold cookies in the oven slows the spreading and puffing of the cookies as they bake. This helps keep the rose design intact.

Click through the step by step process photos to see how to make painted rosewater cookies:

How to make egg white &ldquopaint&rdquo

Roll the dough then stamp the design all over.

Use a round cutter to cut out the cookies

Use an artists brush to paint the rose design onto the cookies

Sprinkle the cookies with sugar to set the design and add a sparkly finish.

A little baking science about shortbread cookie dough:

This next section is for all us baking geeks! If you prefer to just follow the recipe and aren&rsquot interested in the hows and whys, just skip to the recipe and go for it. If you&rsquore into the hows and whys of recipe development, keep reading.

  • Keeping the rose pattern intact and attractive was my main challenge for this cookie. If the cookies puff up and crackle in the oven then you can&rsquot tell it&rsquos a rose on top, and the whole effect is lost.
  • First off, I use cake flour rather than all purpose flour. Cake flour is slightly acidic. Acidic foods don&rsquot brown very well. I like a paler cookie to really show off the colors of the rose.
  • During baking a more acidic dough will set faster than a more alkaline dough. Which is good, because the rose pattern will set before it has time to become distorted.
  • I also switched the sugar in the dough from granulated to powdered sugar. During the creaming process, granulated sugar crystals cut through and aerate the butter. The air pockets expand in the oven giving rise to the cake or cookie. But a big rise in the oven would distort the rose pattern.
  • Cookies made with powdered sugar will spread a little more than cookies made with granulated sugar. The finely ground sugar absorbs more moisture which softens the dough. But remember that the acidity of the cake flour does help the dough set faster in the oven, which corrects for any extra spreading caused by using powdered sugar.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider giving it 5 stars: