It's safe to say that Cardamom is my favorite spice when it comes to desserts. Probably because it's used in so many Authentic Iraqi desserts and I grew up loving it. I mean, just the smell! And this Cardamom Shortbread is just that: authentic, full of cardamom and super melt in your mouth deliciousness. The bonus is that it's surprisingly easy to make. This is a special recipe specific to the region I was born in: Mosul Iraq. And I'm super excited to share it with you!
One day I was on a call with my dad with my relatives back home. Earlier that day my dad had been telling me to make him a dessert. Luckily, my aunt who is famous for making this dessert was on the phone! We ended up getting the exact recipe from her right there on the phone, and I got up to make it straight away. And I'm so glad I did because I discovered how easy it is and now want to make it for every occasion.
This shortbread is unique in that it's not the bright white color that most shortbread cookies are. It's a slightly "tan" color due to the ground cardamom and also due to baking it to a light golden color. You can buy ready ground cardamom (like this one) but if you grind your own it'll definitely be even better! I personally love it more than plain shortbread because I find plain shortbread just tastes of sugar and is quite boring (yes I said it). I promise that once you try this cardamom shortbread recipe, you'll now what I mean.
How to make Cardamom Shortbread
I personally find shortbread extremely easy to make, once you get used to how the texture of the dough should feel. It can be a little tricky to get it right, because a really soft dough may melt into a puddle in the oven, and a dry dough won't melt in your mouth and give you that dreamy shortbread texture. My first attempt turned into a puddle because I had too much butter to the flour ratio. Still ate it, don't worry. Here are the steps you need to follow for this cardamom shortbread:
- Start with room temperature butter cut into cubes. It's important that the butter is not too soft! Otherwise it will melt a lot quicker in the oven and yield a cookie that spreads out too much
- To the butter, add the confectioner's sugar and mix with an electric mixture until they're well combined and a pale yellow. You can't really use granulated sugar here because it won't blend into the butter as well
- Then you add the egg, baking powder and cardamom powder and give it another little whizz using the mixer until combined
- Now is the part where you gradually add your flour, I'd say half a cup at a time, and mix it well using your hands
- Keep adding the flour until the dough starts to take shape and is no longer sticky on your hands. It needs to come away from your hands when you mix it and form a smooth dough
- Now you can shape it into medium sized balls (about 1.5 tbsp) and place them on a lined baking sheet
- Flatten them slightly into small discs and press the almond in the middle of each cookie
- Bake them at 350F (a high oven temperature will cook the outside faster than the inside) and watch the bottoms. Move to broil for a few minutes once the bottom of the cookies are a light golden color
- Broil until the tops are lightly golden and toasted looking and then take the cookies out to cool on the counter
The whole process of making this cardamom shortbread takes about 10 minutes to make the cookies, and then 25 minutes to bake them. So quick and easy!
I really hope you try this cardamom shortbread recipe! I typically make them for Eid and special occasions. They're a family favorite. If you do try the shortbread, be sure to leave me some feedback and a review - I love hearing what you have to say.
For more easy desserts, check out:
Cardamom Shortbread Cookies
- 1.5 cups unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup confectioner's sugar powdered sugar
- ½ egg mixed
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp ground cardamom
- 2 ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp flour
- 16 peeled and halved almonds unpeeled works too
- Start by preheating the oven to 350F
- Cut up room temperature butter into cubes and add to a bowl
- Add the powdered sugar to the butter and beat using an electric mixer for about a minute until well combined and the mixture is pale yellow
- Add the baking powder, cardamom and half the egg and mix well using the electric mixture for 20 more seconds until well combined
- Gradually add the flour ½ cup at a time and mix with your hands. Incorporate all of the flour well before adding the next ½ cup
- Keep mixing with your hands until all the flour is added and you reach a firm but soft dough
- The dough should not be sticking to your hands and should come together and be easy to shape into balls. However don't add too much flour as that will make the shortbread tougher
- Form into medium sized balls (about 1.5 tbsp) and place on a lined baking sheet
- Press the balls down slightly to form a disc shape and press half an almond in the middle
- Bake for about 20-25 on the bottom rack until are the bottom is lightly golden. Broil for 2-3 minutes to get a light golden color on the top (you can keep them on the bottom rack so you don't risk them becoming too dark)
- Allow to cool and enjoy! Store in an airtight container
- You may need to add slightly less or more flour, depending on the type you have. It's important to not add too much in order to achieve a "melt in your mouth" texture. Add enough until the dough no longer sticks but is still soft
- It's also important to use room temperature butter. If the butter is too soft, it will affect the texture of the dough