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Apple Rose Shortbread Cookies (6 Ingredients)

by Lily
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Rich shortbread dough rolled with sweet, crisp ambrosia apple slices produces a delicious and unique cookie. Not only are these beautiful to look at, but they taste like you pressed an apple pie into a cookie! You can easily impress loved ones with only 6 ingredients for this treat!

Apple Rose desserts are not new to the baking scene, yet I am still in awe of how beautiful they turn out every time I bake them. In the past, I made these apple rose treats with puff pastry dough filled with some jam, pudding, or cream cheese.  This time around, I decided to create something different. Since Dec. 4th is National Cookie Day, I thought, why not make a unique cookie? Something that does not already fall under the holiday baking category? Et voilà! Apple Rose Shortbread cookies are born!

*Good To Know*

  • Can I use a basic sugar cookie dough instead of shortbread dough?
    The difference between shortbread and basic sugar cookie dough is that shortbread is dense and has a higher amount of butter than sugar cookie dough. Usually, there is a leavening agent such as baking powder or soda, so if you decide to use a sugar cookie dough, make sure to omit the leavening agent.
  • Is it possible not to make the shortbread dough too dry & dense?
    As with most cookie doughs, the trick is to not over mix your dough after adding flour to the butter. Minimizing the mixing time prevents the flour from forming gluten strands, making your cookie lighter in texture.  Also, mix your butter and sugar until most of the sugar is dissolved. This is critical to making softer cookie dough.
  • What should I use to roll out shortbread dough?
    I used a French rolling dowel because its lightweight gave me more control over how thick I could roll out my dough. The dough is not pliable, so I do not recommend a heavy rolling pin. It will make it more difficult to control thickness. If you do not own a french dowel, you can use a large glass bottle (such as a wine bottle) or a tall drinking glass.
  • How should I store leftovers?
    Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days on your counter or up to 7 days in your refrigerator. To reheat cookies, bake them at 325°F on a baking tray for 10 minutes.

Ingredients you will need

For the shortbread dough

  • unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • white sugar
  • vanilla sugar (or extract)
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt

For the apple roses

  • apples (I used ambrosia, but you can use any apples to your liking)
  • *Optional* – lemon & white sugar for blanching apples, Icing sugar for decor & added sweetness

How to prepare the apple roses

Rinse apples, remove the stem and cut apples in half, from top to bottom. You can use a melon baller,  small spoon, or paring knife to scoop out the apple’s core in the center. Use a paring knife to slice away the stem and bud on each end of the apple half.

Place the apple half with the flesh side down and the stem side of the apple facing the 9 o’clock side. Slice the apple into 1 cm thick slices, discarding the ends. Repeat this step until you have sliced all of the apple halves and set them aside in a large bowl.

Want to know what makes the apple slices so bendable for rolling? By blanching them in hot water first! To do so, fill a large saucepan with water near the brim and bring to a rolling boil. I added a whole lemon cut in half to prevent apples from browning and half a cup of white sugar to add sweetness back to the apple slices. This method is optional, and you can blanch apples with just hot water.

Work in batches by adding a cup of apple slices into a mesh strainer, then dunk it into the boiling water for 1½ minutes until apples are softened and flexible. Do a quick bend test on a slice. If it bends without breaking then it does not need more blanching time. If it does not bend well, blanch slices for another 10 to 15 seconds and test again. Repeat this step until you have blanched all of the slices. Set them aside in a bowl and allow them to cool for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Tip

  • Always read over the entire recipe before you get started. This will give you a clear understanding of what preparations you need to do.

How to make shortbread cookie dough

To succeed at making shortbread cookie dough, make sure to use room temperature butter. If you forgot to leave the butter out to warm it to room temperature, you could read my how-to post here on how to speed up this process.

Add butter, vanilla sugar, salt, and white sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream everything together for at least 10 minutes until the mixture is doubled in volume and dissolved most of the sugar. I highly recommend using vanilla sugar to keep the dough as light in colour as possible. If you have difficulty finding vanilla sugar, then the vanilla extract is ok; but be aware that it will darken your dough a little, though.

Lastly, add the flour and mix the dough enough to incorporate the flour. Do not overmix the dough to keep your cookies less dense. Scoop dough into a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes to firm up.

How to roll dough into apple rose cookies

Since shortbread dough has a high amount of butter, turn down the heat in your house to slow the butter from melting while you work (or turn your A/C up). Start with a large piece of parchment paper (approx. 20-inch length x 8-inch width) and cut it in half, lengthwise.

Sprinkle a little flour on one of the parchment pieces. Scoop 2 Tablespoons of dough into your hand, sprinkle it with a bit of flour, roll it into a ball, and then shape dough into a 4-inch log. Place the log on your floured parchment paper. Sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough log, press it with the palm of your hand lightly and place the second sheet of parchment paper on top of it.

Rotate the parchment paper 90 degrees counterclockwise. Use your French rolling dowel or glass bottle and roll the dough out to a rectangular shape with approximate dimensions of 9-inch length x 4-inch width. Slowly peel off the top parchment paper.

Then use a long chef’s knife and trim the edges so that you end up with a clean rectangle. You should end up with dimensions of 7-inch length x 3-inch width. Place four apple slices staggered along the top edge of your dough, leaving the bottom half of the dough exposed. Use your parchment paper as a guide to fold the bottom dough up and on top of your apple slices. Smooth the folded dough and slowly peel back the parchment paper.

Turn your dough 90 degrees counterclockwise.  Start rolling by pulling on the parchment paper with one hand and rolling your apple rose with the other hand at the same time. This rolling method helps keep your shortbread cookie dough intact while creating your rose cookie.  Adjust the “petals” by slightly opening them up if they were rolled too tight.

Place your rose cookie into a muffin pan. No need to grease the pan since there is enough butter in your dough, which will prevent your cookie from sticking to the pan when it is baked. Refrigerate the muffin pan for 15 minutes. This will help the cookie dough firm up before it’s baked. Bake rose cookies on the middle oven rack at 350°F (177°C) for 20 to 25 minutes. The top of your cookie will remain an ivory colour but you can check the bottom. It should be lightly browned. 

Remove your pan from the oven and allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack for them to cool for another 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle a bit of icing sugar on top of your cookies if you like.

Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days on your counter or up to 7 days in your refrigerator. To reheat cookies, bake them at 325°F on a bake tray for 10 minutes.

If you enjoyed my recipe, please leave a comment or rate it below.  Also don’t forget to follow me on my social media channels (YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram) to keep up with my latest kitchen shenanigans.

Apple Rose Shortbread Cookies

Rich shortbread dough rolled with sweet, crisp ambrosia apple slices produces a delicious and unique cookie. Not only are these beautiful to look at, but they taste like you pressed an apple pie into a cookie! You can easily impress loved ones with only six ingredients for this treat!
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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 19 cookies

Ingredients

For the shortbread dough

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 g) white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
  • 1 envelope (9 g) vanilla sugar, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups (219 g) all purpose flour, sifted

For the apple roses

  • 3 liters water
  • 1 large (108 g) lemon *optional*, cut in half
  • ½ cup (100 g) white sugar *optional*
  • 3 large (669 g) ambrosia apples (or 4 medium), rinsed, trimmed & sliced thinly (1 cm thick)

INSTRUCTIONS 

Prepare apple slices

  • Add 3 Litres of water, lemon halves, and white sugar to a large sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil on high-heat.
  • Reduce heat to medium-high. Add 1 cup of apple slices to a large mesh strainer and dunk it into the water for 1½ minutes to blanch the apple slices. Do a bend test on an apple slice. If it bends without breaking, remove strainer from the saucepan, shake off excess water and place slices into a large bowl. If it does not bend well, blanch apples for another 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat this step for the remaining apple slices. Cool blanched apple slices in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

To make the shortbread cookie dough

  • Add room temperature butter, vanilla sugar, salt and white sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream everything together for at least 10 minutes on medium speed until mixture is doubled in volume and dissolved most of the sugar.
  • Add flour to the creamed butter and only mix the dough enough to incorporate the flour. Do not overmix the dough to keep cookies less dense. Refrigerate dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes for it to firm up.

To roll dough into apple rose cookies

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C) and ensure oven rack is placed in the middle.
  • Work in a cool room to slow the butter in the dough from melting. Start with a large piece of parchment paper (approx. 20-inch length x 8-inch width) and cut it in half, lengthwise.
  • Sprinkle a little flour on one of the parchmentpieces. Scoop 2 Tablespoons of dough into your hand, sprinkle it with a bit offlour, roll it into a ball, and then shape dough into a 4-inch log. Place the log on the floured parchment paper. Sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough log, press it with the palm of your hand lightly and place the second sheet of parchment paper on top of it. 
  • Rotate the parchment paper 90 degrees counterclockwise. Use a French rolling dowel or glass bottle and roll the dough out to a rectangular shape with approximate dimensions of 9-inch length x 4-inch width. Slowly peel off the top parchment paper.
  • Use a long chef’s knife and trim the edges so that you end up with a clean rectangle. Dimensions should be about 7-inch length x 3-inch width. Place four apple slices staggered along the long, top edge of the rectangle, leaving the bottom half of the dough exposed. Use the parchment paper as a guide to fold the bottom dough up and on top of your apple slices. Smooth the folded dough and slowly peel back the parchment paper.
  • Turn dough 90 degrees counterclockwise.  Start rolling by pulling on the parchment paper with one hand and rolling the apple rose with the other hand at the same time. This rolling method helps keep the shortbread cookie dough intact. Adjust the "petals" by slightly opening them up if they are rolled too tightly. Carefully place the rolled cookie into a muffin pan. No need to grease the pan since there is enough butter in the dough to prevent it from sticking. Repeat this step until your muffin pan is filled. Refrigerate the muffin pan for 15 minutes. This will help the cookie dough firm up before it's baked.
    Bake cookies for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer them to a cooling wire rack for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of icing sugar on top if desired.

Video

Category: Dessert
Cuisine: European
Keyword: apple, apple roses, butter, cookies, shortbread

Tips

Can I use a basic sugar cookie dough instead of shortbread dough?
The difference between shortbread and basic sugar cookie dough is that shortbread is dense and has a higher amount of butter than sugar cookie dough. Usually, there is a leavening agent such as baking powder or soda, so if you decide to use a sugar cookie dough, make sure to omit the leavening agent.
Is it possible not to make the shortbread dough too dry & dense?
As with most cookie doughs, the trick is to not over mix your dough after adding flour to the butter. Minimizing the mixing time prevents the flour from forming gluten strands, making your cookie lighter in texture. Also, mixing your butter and sugar until most of it dissolves is crucial in making softer cookie dough.
What should I use to roll out shortbread dough?
I used a French rolling dowel because its light weight gave me more control over how thick I could roll out my dough. The dough is not pliable, so I do not recommend a heavy rolling pin. It will make it more difficult to control thickness. If you do not own a french dowel, you can use a large glass bottle (such as a wine bottle) or a tall drinking glass.
How should I store leftovers?
Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days on your counter or up to 7 days in your refrigerator. To reheat cookies, bake them at 325°F on a baking tray for 10 minutes.
Your Own Digital Notes
Nutrition Facts
Apple Rose Shortbread Cookies
Serving Size
 
1 apple rose cookie
Amount per Serving
Calories
199
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
10
g
15
%
Saturated Fat
 
6
g
38
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Cholesterol
 
26
mg
9
%
Sodium
 
132
mg
6
%
Potassium
 
61
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
27
g
9
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
17
g
19
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
Vitamin A
 
319
IU
6
%
Vitamin C
 
5
mg
6
%
Calcium
 
13
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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