If you find yourself saving aspirational food recipes on Instagram, you've likely saved one from food writer and stylist KC Hysmith.
We reached out to KC in search of a recipe that was inspired by the season, but also easy enough for little hands to help with. These shortbread cookies check all the boxes: one bowl, press-in shortbread cookies that children will love to help making!
These cookies get a burst of bright color from matcha green tea powder.
Cutting the cookies before they bake provides helpful lines to show where decorations of edible flowers, play-dough like marzipan, and super simple buttercream can go (or not go, because coloring outside the lines is also okay, especially when everything is contained inside a mess-free sheet pan).
Edible flowers can be found at your local farmers’ market (avoid those sold in the grocery store as they are often sprayed with non-food grade chemicals) and dried petals can be purchased online.
You can also look through your yard or garden if spring has already started in your area. And a little bit of frosting can be used to make pretty flowers in a pinch.
For the cookies:
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
For the frosting:
½ cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream, as needed
Fresh edible flowers (such as chamomile, lavender, pansies, rose petals)
Dried edible flowers (such as calendula, bachelor’s buttons, lavender, elderflower)
Marzipan and natural food dye (such as turmeric)
Set the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a quarter sheet pan with cooking spray or rub down with a light coat of coconut oil and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the softened butter, sugar, and matcha and beat to combine. Add the flour and stir until fully incorporated and the dough begins to stick together.
Using clean fingers, press the dough into the prepared sheet pan. For an extra smooth top, place a sheet of greased parchment or wax paper on top of the dough and roll a heavy glass over the sheet. Gently pull away the paper to reveal a smooth surface.
Before placing in the oven, score the dough with a sharp knife or bench scraper to make evenly-sized portions (we made rectangles, but you could do squares, triangles, etc).
As the cookies bake, these lines will come together again slightly, but remain separated enough to gently break apart after the cookies cool. Poke each cookie with a toothpick or fork tines a few times (this keeps the shortbread from rising too much).
Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are set and the edges just barely begin to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before decorating.
Make the Frosting
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat on low until combined. Increase the speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and salt and beat for a few seconds more.
Add in the milk a tablespoon at a time until the mixture becomes slightly smoother and spreadable. Test the frosting with the back of a spoon: if it spreads and pushes into the bowl without too much pressure, it’s ready.
Decorate the cookies with the buttercream (it’s the easiest kind of frosting for little hands to use) to create swoops and dots for sprinkles of dried flower petals and whole flower tops.
Alternatively, make your own edible flowers with frosting: simply pipe 5 or more dots in a circle and use a small spoon to gently drag each frosting dot into the middle of the circle to create petals.
Add a bit more frosting in the middle and top with a small ball of turmeric-dyed marzipan. Herbs like sage and mint make fine flower substitutes, too.
There are no rules, so use spring and nature as an inspiration to decorate your pan of shortbread however you like!
When you’re ready to eat, simply break off a cookie or two from the pan using the baked-in lines as a guide. Store any leftovers in an airtight container.
- You can omit matcha and substitute cocoa powder or add in some of your favorite spices instead. The matcha flavor isn’t overwhelming, but adds a lovely color.
- This recipe calls for a quarter-sheet pan (9x13), but you can use a 9x9 pan or a bigger sheet pan, the cookies will just be a little thicker or thinner. Be sure to adjust cooking times and keep an eye on thinner cookies so they don’t burn.
- While I like making messes in the kitchen, sometimes it’s nice when things are a little more contained, which is why this shortbread is pressed into a pan (a very traditional method for shortbread) rather than rolled into a log to slice or rolled out and divided with cookie cutters. You can still do either of these alternative methods, simply let the dough chill for an hour so it’s easier to handle.