Lilac Sugar Shortbread is made with one of the most aromatic edible flowers, and makes a lovely variation on a classic buttery shortbread cookie for brunches, showers, and afternoon tea.
lilac shortbread cookies capture the fleeting scent of lilacs
Lilac sugar shortbread takes the ethereal, floral scent of lilacs and bakes them into adorable, buttery little shortbread cookies that look amazing on an afternoon tea spread or simply next to your next cup of coffee! If lilac season has passed in your area, try this with other aromatic edible flowers like rose or marigold petals, violets, or honeysuckle.
cooking with lilacs FAQ’s
The ‘flavor’ of many edible flowers has more to do with their aroma. The lilac sugar used in this recipe has a wonderful lilac scent, and the baked cookies have a faint lilac presence.
Use fresh pesticide free blossoms scattered in salads, or to garnish spring desserts. Make lilac infused sugar for baking, or a lilac simple syrup to flavor beverages and cocktails.
Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) are an edible plant that grows in zones 3-7, and there are even species that can be grown up to zone 9. Your backyard bush is perfect for harvesting for recipes, just make sure it’s pesticide free.
Unfortunately like most flowers, they will turn a light brownish-beige when exposed to heat. One way to get around that issue is to use the method I use in my pansy shortbread cookies, where I press fresh flowers flat, and then apply them to the cookies after baking.
two ways to make lilac sugar
I love making infused sugars to bake with, or just to add to coffee, tea, or morning cereal! There are two main ways to make lilac infused sugar:
- In a food processor, process the lilac blossoms with the granulated sugar until well combined. In my experience, the sugar will turn a lovely light lilac hue, but this color fades to a grayish brown rather quickly.
- Layer granulated sugar and fresh lilac blossoms in a jar and allow them to infuse for several days or longer. Shake the jar every day to hasten the process. After a week, sift the sugar through a mesh strainer to remove the blossoms.
In either case plan to use your lilac sugar asap for best results.
what to serve with lilac shortbread
These floral cookies are a great addition to an afternoon tea party, a shower, or spring themed brunch. If you want to really go for the floral theme, serve with a honeysuckle iced tea, bee balm tea, or Moroccan mint tea.
more botanical treats
- Pansy Topped Shortbread Cookies
- Honeysuckle Iced Tea
- Grapefruit Blossom Pot De Creme
- Douglas Fir Shortbread Cookies
- Cardamom Rose Cocktail
Lilac Sugar Shortbread
For the lilac sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lilac blossoms, stems and leaves removed
For the lilac sugar
- To make the lilac sugar, add the sugar and the lilac blossoms to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. The sugar should take on a pale lilac hue. This makes about 1 cup of sugar, in order to fit the bowl of a standard food processor, but you will only need 1/2 cup for the shortbread recipe. (you can make just 1/2 cup of sugar in a small capacity food processor, if you have one)
For the shortbread cookies
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Add the flour, butter, 1/2 cup of the lilac sugar, salt, and vanilla extract to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine, continuing until the dough comes together into a single clump.
- Remove the dough from the food processor to a lightly floured surface, and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Scatter about half of the whole lilac blossoms over the dough, and then fold the dough a couple times to work them in, and re-roll it out into a rough rectangle. I like to divide my dough in half and do this twice.
- Scatter the remaining lilac blossoms over the dough, and roll the dough out until it is about 1/4-1/3 inch thick, making sure the lilac blossoms are well embedded into the dough. Use your fingers to gently press them in, if needed.
- Using a 2 inch biscuit cutter, or other circular cutter, cut out about 24 cookies and place them on a baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until just barely starting to turn golden on the edges. Remove and allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving.