There are a few things more Scottish than shortbread - I should know being a Scot myself. If you like shortbread and the refreshing flavor of lemon, you will love this recipe. It's a subtle spin on the classic shortbread recipe with contrasting sweet and tart flavors from hibiscus, lemon and sugar. The shortbread is made even prettier with edible flowers and pink sugar, making it a special homemade gift at Christmas.
This shortbread follows a standard shortbread recipe with flour, sugar and butter being the main ingredients. Before adding the sugar to the mixture, it's blitzed in the food processor with hibiscus and lemon zest. This makes the sugar turn pink, and adds so much flavor to the sugar. When combined with the dough, the shortbread becomes deliciously flavored with specs of hibiscus, elevating your shortbread game entirely.
Half of the pink sugar mixture is reserved for sprinkling on top of the shortbread. To make the shortbread look even more prettier (because why the hell not?), I used a combination of edible flowers like pansies, and dried rose petals. These are pressed onto the shortbread before baking with the addition of egg white or milk for better stick. This step is completely optional.
You can shape these into any shape you like. Traditionally, shortbread are cut into fingers with a knife. I used a snowflake cookie cutter for mine with it being Christmas time. If you do not have a cookie cutter, you can use a round jar lid or cup to make circles.
Hibiscus & Lemon Shortbread
Prep Time: 10 minute Cook Time: 17 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes Yield: 25 biscuits
200g (1 cup) packed brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons dried hibiscus
zest of a full medium lemon
230g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
325g (2 1/2 cup) all purpose flour
2 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
egg white or milk for brushing on top
edible flowers and/or edible dried rose petals (optional)
Leave the butter out to come to room temperature.
While the butter comes to room temperature, add the sugar, dried hibiscus and lemon zest to a food processor. I use a potato peeler to remove the whole zest from the lemon.
Blitz this for a few seconds, or until the lemon zest and hibiscus become tiny pieces and stain the sugar pink. The zest will excrete moisture so the sugar may clump a little. Reserve 1/2 of the mixture and set aside.
In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, otherwise in a bowl with a hand mixer or whisk, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy.
Add the salt and flour and mix until crumbly.
Add the milk and mix again until a rough dough forms.
Transfer the mixture to parchment paper and press together to form a dough ball.
Roll the dough to around 3/4cm - 1cm.
Use a cookie cutter to cut into the desired shape.
Roll the scraps together and repeat the process.
Place the shortbread in the freezer for around 15 minutes on a flat tray.
Preheat the oven to 165C.
Once the shortbread has frozen slightly, brush with either egg white or milk. If using the flowers, press them gently onto the shortbread, followed by a generous sprinkle of the reserved pink sugar mixture.
Place into the oven for around 15-17 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Every oven is different so keep an eye on them and do not open the oven door while baking.
Once baked, carefully remove the shortbread from the baking sheet to a cooling rack using a spatula.
If you wish to further decorate with powdered or granulated sugar, do so while hot.
Let the shortbread rest for ten minutes before eating.
Store in an air tight container for up to five days.
These can be made for bridal parties, baby showers, weddings or parties by switching the cookie cutter shape! Pin for later!