How to Make Pansy Topped Shortbread Cookies ~ these are my favorite buttery rich shortbread cookies topped with colorful and delicate edible flowers. This pretty tea time treat is surprisingly easy to pull off!
Maybe you’re planning a wedding shower, or afternoon tea party, or maybe you just love a good kitchen craft, but these edible flower cookies are adorable and SO easy to pull off. Your Martha Stewart cred is about to go through the roof!
I had a lot of fun with these cookies, and came up with a new technique for making them that I think is a game changer. If you know this blog you know that I love edible flowers, and I’ve got lots of recipes that feature them, from drinks and salads to decadent desserts. Pansies are some of my favorite edible flowers because they’re so readily available, and so varied in their colors. These cookies will wow everybody!
For these pansy topped cookies I’ve come up with a new technique that’s easier than the standard method, and results in a fresher, brighter, prettier cookie.
I’ve made herb embossed savory shortbread which continues to be one of my most popular posts ever. I developed a technique for that recipe that involves rolling or ‘laminating’ fresh herbs onto the shortbread dough before cutting out the cookies. Most recipes for edible flower topped cookies involve pasting the flowers down with a goopy egg wash, and then baking. This method results in an unappealing bubbly white layer over the flowers. And honestly, baked pansies aren’t very attractive!
The BEST way to make pansy topped shortbread cookies ~
My method avoids baking the pansies, which keeps them fresher and more colorful. This method is different from any other I’ve seen, and I know you’re going to love the results!
- Remove the stems from fresh pansies.
- Press the flowers between sheets of parchment or waxed paper, using heavy books to weigh them down. Let them sit for 30 minutes.
- Bake shortbread cookies and while they’re hot from the oven, gently place the pressed pansies on top, lightly patting them down so they adhere. The heat of the cookies will bond the delicate petals to the surface, so don’t press too hard.
- Sprinkle with granulated sugar if you like.
- Let the cookies cool completely to firm up. After they’ve cooled they can be stacked on a platter.
- Note: brightly colored pansies seems to work best. I did use paler colors because I had them in my garden, but I noticed that the more vibrant colors made the most impact on the cookies.
How to make pressed flowers for baking and crafts ~
- Pick flowers in the morning, after the dew has evaporated, but before the afternoon heat and sun.
- Carefully snip or pinch off the stems and any thick parts just behind the blossom, taking care to keep the flower intact.
- Lay the dry flowers, face side down, on a sheet of parchment paper. Fill the sheet with flowers.
- Lay an identical sheet over the flowers.
- Carefully, without disturbing the blossoms, lower a large heavy book or baking sheet over the paper.
- Layer several large heavy books or other objects on top to evenly weigh the whole thing down.
- Leave for at least 30 minutes (for cookies) or up to 2 weeks, depending on your project.
- Remove the weights and carefully peel off the top layer of paper to reveal the pressed flowers. Be careful moving them, they’re delicate!
How long do pressed flowers last?
- Pressed flowers will keep their color for a surprisingly long time, 5-7 years or more if kept out of sunlight.
- The Victorians loved to press flowers and lots of their handiwork is still around.
- Tip: don’t try to keep your cookies for 5+ years, enjoy them asap! I have successfully frozen these cookies, but if you’re making them for a special occasion, do a test batch first to be sure.
Edible flower varieties you can use to decorate shortbread cookies~
You’ll want to use delicate flowers for this project. Heavy or thick flowers won’t adhere to the hot cookies. You can also consider removing the petals from larger flowers and using them. This is ideal for roses, geraniums, or marigolds. For a list of edible flowers see my Spring Salad with Edible Flowers post.
- pansies are ideal because they’re thin enough to press the whole flower flat, and they come in endless color combinations.
- violets and violas
- roses (use the petals)
- geraniums (use the petals)
- marigolds (use the petals)
- you can actually purchase a collection of edible flowers by mail, from Melissa’s. Click here for info. And edible flowers can be made into everything from edible flower ice cubes, to ice cream, to cocktails.
How to Make Pansy Topped Shortbread Cookies
- food processor (optional)
- parchment paper or waxed paper
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- assorted fresh pansies you'll need about 30, give or take
- Put the sugar and soft butter into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine completely.
- Add the flour and extract, and pulse about 10 times, then run the machine briefly, just until the dough comes together into a lump or lumps.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and bring together into a smooth flat disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 2 hours.
- While the dough is chilling, remove the stems from the pansies, and place them on a large sheet of waxed paper, or parchment paper. Place another sheet on top, and then weigh it down with a baking tray or other large flat surface, topped with several heavy books. Let the pansies press for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if you like.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325F
- Roll out the dough to a 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out with a cookie cutter. I used both a 2 inch and a 2 1/2 inch cutter.
- Bake the cookies in batches, 1 tray at a time. Bake the smaller cookies for 7-8 minutes, and the larger ones for 9-11 minutes, depending on thickness. Your cookies will not brown, they will be pale and soft when done.
- Remove the tray from the oven and gently press the flat pansies onto the hot cookies, pressing slightly to adhere the flowers to the cookies. Don't press too hard, the heat of the cookies will do the job. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Let the cookies cool completely on a rack.
- Note: the cookies will be soft when they come out of the oven, but will firm up as they cool.
notes and variations