Ah, shortbread cookies: the deceptively delicious globs of butter, sugar, and happiness. As a child, I resisted even tasting shortbread cookies because they looked like boring cracker-cookies and were obviously lacking in the one thing that desserts must have: chocolate. But I eventually gave the lowly shortbread a chance, and now it's one of my fav desserts (second, of course, to everything involving chocolate). At heart, I am a Scottish lass, so maybe it's in my genes to like shortbread. That's how genetics work, right? Right. Cool.
Now, as we have already learned, many flowers are edible, and in fact, the entire dandelion plant is edible (whaaaaat?!). You might already know that you can eat the leaves: in fact, they are the namesake of the plant. The sharp barbs of the leaves look like a lion's teeth, or in French, "dent de lion" - dandelion! And moving on downward, the roots are also edible: dig them up, roast 'em, and make some tea (I smell a future post...).
But amazingly, the flowers are also edible - either fry them whole, or use the petals in baking. I've heard of using them in sugar cookies, breads, and now, for your baking pleasure, shortbread! They have a gentle, subtle taste that works nicely in a simple recipe without other strong flavors to really allow it to shine.
In order to cook with dandelion flowers, you need to start by prepping. This is not a super quick process, but I found it fairly meditative in the end. This is the major time chunk for the prep for this recipe. First, collect flowers in the middle of the day. Dandelions, like many other flowers, close up at night and open again during the day. If you don't have time to sit and prep them immediately, simply collect and put them into a bag in the freezer until you are ready to pick them apart - I did this, and they stayed beautifully fresh and open.
The next step is to pull all remnants of green off the petals. I found a method that worked well for me involving multiple bowls and a sort of careful gathering of petals followed by a quick twist and pull that separated the petals from the remaining green stem pieces. Once you have the petals separated, you can once again throw them into the freezer or cook with them right away. Give the green portions to the worms.
I picked a huge amount of dandelions for this recipe, so I have a ton of leftovers that ended up back in the freezer - I'll have to keep playing around with some recipes to see what else I can come up with!
Dandelion Shortbread Cookies
Recipe Type: Baking | Author: Edible Terrain
Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes | Yield: 2 dozen small cookies
- 1 stick salted butter, at cool room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup chopped dandelion petals
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Lightly grease one 9" square baking pan.
- In a medium-sized bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in the flour, then gently turn the petals into the mixture. Note: this is a dry mixture, but it will come together. If it refuses, sprinkle some water into the mix until everything sticks.
- Move your dough into the pan, and use your fingers to press it into an even layer.
- Using a fork, stab the dough all over (to allow steam to escape and prevent bubbling). Feel free to get creative here and create a pattern, or just go all stabby.
- Bake until the top is a light golden brown, with deeper golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and immediately turn shortbread onto a cutting surface.
- While still hot, cut shortbread into smaller pieces - I used a pizza wheel. If you wait until it cools, this step will be nearly impossible. Transfer cookies to cooling rack.
- Serve and enjoy. Leftovers will keep well in a container, or freeze nicely for future treats.