Rich with butter, these maple shortbread cookies are perfect served alongside a mug of hot tea or coffee. Just the right amount of maple sugar gives the shortbread both a subtle, light sweetness topped with the pleasant, caramel notes of maple.
Shortbread is a traditional Scottish confection that is typically made by combining 1 part sugar with 2 parts butter and 3 parts wheat flour. In this recipe we swap white sugar for maple sugar, and add a pinch of ground fenugreek which complements and amplifies that maple flavor.
Unlike many maple shortbread recipes, which typically use white sugar in combination with maple extract or flavoring agents, this one finds its sweetness and its flavor from real maple sugar.
Additionally, I recommend using all-purpose einkorn flour in this recipe. Einkorn is an heirloom variety of wheat that is more nutritious and deeper in flavor than modern varieties. Its soft texture lends itself well to pastry making.
Tips for making shortbread
Shortbread's simplicity means that you need to pay attention to every step in order to deliver spectacular results. It's easy to make, to be sure, but focusing on both the quality of your ingredients and your technique means that your cookies come out nearly perfect ever time.
- Use room temperature, softened butter so that it saturates the dough. Butter acts as the entirety of both the liquid and fat in this recipe, so it's important that it's soft and pliable so that you can work it into the dough easily.
- Add fenugreek to your dough for a bigger maple flavor. Fenugreek is a golden-colored spice that shares many aromatic compounds with maple syrup, for that reason, including fenugreek in your dough, will amplify the maple flavor in the cookies without the need for extracts and flavor enhancements.
- Cut the cookies using either a cookie stamp or by hand. If you're cutting the cookies by hand, with a pizza cutter or sharp knife, prick them on the top with the tines of a fork, which allows steam to escape and prevents bubbling.
- Cut the cookies, and chill the dough. Chilling the dough, at least 1 and up to 4 hours, allows the butter to solidify, improving their texture and preventing them from spreading.
- Bake in a slow oven (325 F). Unlike cookies that include eggs and which are intended to be moist, shortbread is intended to be dry and crumbly. For this reason, you want to bake it in a slow oven over an extended period of time (20 to 25 minutes).
Use sprouted whole grain flour such as sprouted spelt or sprouted einkorn flour.
If using all-purpose wheat or pastry flour, increase the butter to 1 cup.
Leave out the fenugreek, and add freshly grated lemon peel instead.
Dip the shortbread in melted chocolate, and sprinkle them with chopped hazelnuts.