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Orange Cardamom Shortbread

My recipe for orange cardamom shortbread is a beautiful combination of crispy, buttery shortbread with the spiced citrus flavors of orange and cardamom. I can’t think of many recipes that are as simple and classically delicious as a homemade shortbread!

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A few ingredient notes

  • Butter – For a recipe like this (where butter is the star!), splurge for European-style butter such as Kerrigold.
  • Sugar – Some shortbread recipes call for confectioner’s sugar, but I much prefer the granulated version. Granulated sugar offers a more subdued sweetness and a slightly sandier texture, which I love!
  • Orange zest and cardamom – a perfect pair! Cardamom is part of the Ginger family and is mostly popular in Indian cuisine. Its citrusy notes complement the orange zest in this recipe incredibly well! What I love about flavoring this shortbread is the way it hits your taste buds, almost like a time release cookie! First, you’ll taste the sweet, buttery flavor followed by the perfect balance of orange and cardamom with a hint of sea salt.

What you’ll need for this Orange Cardamom Shortbread

  • Rolling pin – Joseph Joseph sells an adjustable rolling pin that will make measuring dough thickness easy!
  • A citrus zester for the orange zest
  • Biscuit cutter – If using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, this recipe will make 24 cookies. Alternatively, you can use any shape you’d like, or cut these into bars.

Making the shortbread

The first step of this recipe is mixed on low speed and second step is mixed by hand for two reasons:

  • Mixing the butter on low – In this recipe, the butter is mixed on low speed to combine with the sugar to reduce aeration. Aerating butter is most useful in recipes that call for a leavening agent as it aids the rise of baked goods. For this shortbread, we want the opposite, for the dough to stay as tight as possible!
  • Minimizing gluten development – Gluten is formed when flour and water (or other liquid) is combined. Although this recipe only calls for a small amount of liquid, gluten can develop from water released from the butter. To achieve the best results texture-wise, mix by hand when adding the flour and only work the dough just until it forms into a cohesive ball.

Shaping the shortbread

Shortbread is traditionally square or rectangular in shape. It can be shaped prior to baking or baked in a ceramic baking dish and cut into bars once cool. A few tips on shaping and baking your shortbread:

  • Cutting your shortbread prior to baking will result in a crispier texture due to a higher ratio of outside edge to inner dough. If you prefer shortbread that is a bit softer in the center, use a larger biscuit cutter or bake the dough in a square or rectangular baking dish and cut once cool. If you prefer a crispier shortbread, use a smaller biscuit cutter and note that it will require a shorter baking time.
    • To bake in an 8×8 inch square baking pan: Reduce the quantities of this recipe by using only 1/3 of the ingredients. Roll the dough into the same 1/2-inch thickness and use the same baking time!
    • To bake in a 13×9 inch rectangular baking pan: Reduce the quantities of this recipe by using only 2/3 of the ingredients. Roll the dough to the same 1/2-inch thickness and use the same baking time!
    • Biscuit cutters around 2 1/2-3 inches in size will bake for the same baking time, but for anything less than 2 1/2 inches, reduce the baking time by 5-6 minutes.
  • “Docking” your shortbread – Pricking the raw shortbread with the prongs of a fork allows steam to escape while baking. It also gives it that characteristic look! To create a special design when docking your shortbread, use a single-pronged instrument like a cake tester!

Baking the shortbread

  • Baking low and slow You might not have baked cookies at a temperature as low as 300°F, before but it is one of the keys to achieving the perfect bake and texture for this shortbread!
  • Some recipes call for double baking the shortbread to achieve the perfect golden color and texture. Considering the thickness, baking time and temperature used in this recipe, I haven’t found a need to double bake.
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Orange Cardamom Shortbread


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  • Author: Amy @ The Pastry Blog
  • Total Time: 90 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x

Description

This recipe makes 24 cookies if using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 339 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tsp grated orange zest from 4 oranges
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 518 g unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Zest the oranges, setting aside about 4 tsp of zest.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, mix the sugar, butter, orange zest, cardamom and salt on low speed until just combined.
  3. Using your hands, add in the flour and vanilla extract, gently squeezing the dough together with your fingers just until a cohesive dough is formed.
  4. Coat a rolling pin with a small amount of flour. Place the dough onto a wooden board or large sheet of parchment paper and roll out to 10mm or about 1/2 inch thickness. 
  5. Cut the dough into your desired shape and place onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Dock the shortbread by gently pricking the dough with the end of a fork.
  6. Refrigerate the dough for 30-45 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 300°F.
  7. Bake the shortbread for 38-40 minutes. If using a smaller biscuit color, reduce the baking time by 6 minutes. If using a dark colored cookie sheet, start checking 2-3 minutes earlier.
  8. Allow the shortbread to cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Chilling: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes