Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cardamom and Vanilla Shortbread

It's only September and Labour Day Weekend hasn't even ended so I'm bound to really annoy a few people with a Christmas Cookie post! If you are one of those people I'm sorry and warning you I'm posting another Christmas cookie recipe today so it might be better if you wait till mid-week to come back again :)

Anyway, Christmas is my favorite holiday and I like to plan ahead - everything from present ideas to my Christmas dinner menu are thought of months in advance. I also like to get an early start on planning my Christmas baking. I like to try a few different things but these are really new takes on old recipes. My first post is a simple shortbread recipe but made "new" with the addition of green cardamom and vanilla. I know you are familiar with vanilla but for anyone not so familiar with cardamom it is worth trying! It provides a warmth and heat (not spicy hot though) that pairs perfectly with vanilla. I keep cardamom pods in my spice drawer and just crush them open for the seeds when needed. I used 15 pods in this recipe and then ground the seeds (about 1/2 tsp once ground).

In this recipe I molded the shortbread batter into a 10-inch tart pan and before I baked it, I sliced it into 8 pieces with a pizza cutter. Within 5 minutes of it coming out of the oven, I removed the side of the pan and recut the slices (I left it on the bottom of the pan). I thought Santa and Christmas trees were natural designs for the triangles shapes. Like them? If not come back in a couple months once the snow is in the air...maybe they will look cuter then!!! 

Cardamom and Vanilla Shortbread


1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 c icing sugar
1 c flour
1/4 c ground almonds
3/4 c unsalted butter, room
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (approx 15 pods)
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Sift cornstarch, icing sugar, flour into mixing bowl of stand mixer. Stir in (on low) ground almonds, vanilla seeds and ground cardamom.
  3. Beat in butter on low speed.
  4. Pat batter into 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. 
  5. Using a knife or pizza cutter cut into 8 pieces. Note: You might find it easier to remove bottom of pan, cut and then place back in tart tin.
  6. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until shortbread is golden in colour.
  7. VERY carefully, separate bottom from sides (keep shortbread on the bottom of pan).
  8. Re-cut the 8 pieces.
  9. Cool completely.

To decorate you will need royal icing, food colour gels and icing bags and tip.


  • Approximately 2 c royal powder icing.
  • various food colour gels - I used Wilton in green, red, pink, light copper, black.

What to do

Christmas Tree

For green:

  • Add 1/2 c royal icing powder to a small bowl and add 2 tbsp water. Mix until smooth. 
  • Add green colouring until desired colour is reached.
  • Using a #2 tip and icing bag. Outline and fill every other triangle to make Christmas trees.

For red decorations on tree:

  • Add 1/4 c royal icing powder to a small bowl and add 1 tbsp water. Mix until smooth. 
  • Add  red colouring until desired colour is reached.
  • Using same tip (washed of course) pipe little strings of red lights onto trees.

For hat band, hat puff and beard...

  • Add 1/4 c royal icing powder to a small bowl and add 1 tbsp water. Mix until smooth. 
  • Use cleaned tip as above, pipe Santa's hat band, hat puff and beard. Fill in.
  • Repeat but add black colouring. Pipe eyes and buttons.
  • Repeat but add pink for cheeks. Pipe cheeks.
  • Repeat but add copper for face. Pipe.
  • Repeat but add red for Santa's suit. Pipe and fill in.
  • Let dry overnight before eating, giving or wrapping!


  1. Those are sooo cute! I love the triangular Santas. And the cardamom shortbread sounds definitely interesting. Though I could never figure out how to grind cardamom... so you're supposed to crush the pods first? Makes sense, hehe.

    1. lol, yes just open the bigger pods by crushing them with side of knife like garlic. Then take the seeds and pulverize with a pestle and mortar or a hammer ;)

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