Crisp, crumbly and melt in your mouth texture. That is exactly how these sugared shortbread cookies are. Rolled and cut into pretty butterfly shapes, these shortbread cookies are decorated with homemade colored sugar in green and turquoise and are a perfect choice for parties and holidays!
Pretty butterfly shaped sugared shortbread cookies
These cut out cookies are adapted from my classic shortbread cookies recipe. The cookie dough is made of 3 very simple and basic ingredients – butter, sugar, and plain flour. To these, I added vanilla and then rolled and cut them into pretty butterfly-shaped cookies.
To decorate the cookies, I made my own colored sugar. And I simply sprinkled it onto my cookies for absolutely gorgeous decoration for my sugared shortbread cookies.
How to Make Sugared Shortbread Cookies
- Granulated & Coarse Sugar
- Plain Flour
- Vanilla Essence
- Food Coloring ( I used Americolor Peacock and Chartreuse)
Mixing the cookie dough
The cookie dough is mixed in the exact same way as my classic shortbread cookies here.
- Start by adding butter and flour into a medium-sized bowl.
- Mix both on medium speed until the mixture turns crumbly. You can also use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Alternatively, you can also rub in the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it turns into a crumbly texture.
- Stir in the sugar and mix until well combined.
- At this stage, the cookie dough would still be crumbly.
- Add vanilla essence and mix again.
- Turn the dough onto a clean workspace and press it together to form a ball. There is no need to knead the dough. Suffice if you press it together to form a dough ball. Set it aside.
Making the colored sanding sugar
- Measure coarse sugar into a small bowl. Add a few drops of food coloring. Use a gel-based food color so that the sugar does not turn wet.
- Use a spoon to mix the color in. The best way to mix it is by pressing the color down with the back of the spoon. That way, the colors get distributed more effectively. Continue mixing until the sugar is all colored. At this stage, if you wish to increase the intensity of the color, repeat the mixing by adding more color to it.
- Let these mix dry out while you roll and cut your cookies. For these cookies, I used 2 different colors of sanding sugar – green and blue
- These are the food coloring I used – Americolor Peacock and Chartreuse.
Rolling and cutting the sugared shortbread cookies
- Divide the shortbread dough into smaller sections for easy rolling.
- Place each section of the dough in between 2 parchment sheets. To ensure the thickness of my cookie dough is consistent, I use 2 dowel rods on either side of my cookie dough and literally roll on them. You can also use rolling pin guide rings, but I prefer to use my dowel rods. Using the rolling pin guide rings or the dowel rods help produce cookies that are of a consistent thickness.
- Carefully peel off the top layer of the parchment paper.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. I cut mine using a butterfly plunger cutter. This is not really a cookie cutter (I bought this for cake decorating actually), but it worked really well for these sugared shortbread cookies. Since the shortbread dough is rather soft, use a flat spatula or an icing scraper to lift the cookies of the parchment paper.
- Turn the cookie over onto your hands and carefully neaten the sides of any loose cookie dough. And then place the cut cookies onto a lined baking tray.
- Sprinkle the sanding sugar as you wish. Press it down gently to hold it in place. For these butterfly cookies, I sprinkled the green for the top section of the butterfly and the turquoise for the bottom section.
Sugared shortbread cookies in butterfly shape
Bake the sugared shortbread cookies at 175 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes until the sides start to turn golden brown.
Once baked, remove the sugared cookies from the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
Store the cookies in an airtight container. This sugared shortbread cookie recipe yields approximately 49 butterfly cookies measuring approximately 6 cm by 4cm.
Butter should be soft but firm
- The butter I used in this sugared shortbread cookies recipe is salted. You can use unsalted butter too, but remember to add about ¼ tsp fine salt when rubbing in the flour and the butter.
- Butter should not be too soft. Ideally, it should still be firm, but soft enough to be poked with your fingers.
- Never use butter that is too soft that it does not hold shape. You can still make the shortbread cookies with this butter, however, you cookies will not be as soft and crumbly as they should.
The best sugar to use for the cookie dough
- The best sugar for shortbread cookies is granulated sugar. You can also use powdered sugar. Coarse sugar is too coarse and is best avoided. This is because it will leave little specks of sugar in your baked shortbread cookies.
Should you knead the dough?
- To ensure these sugared shortbread cookies turn out crispy and crumbly, take note to not overwork the dough once it comes together. Suffice if you press it together to form a ball.
- This is because, when you work it for long, the gluten in the flour becomes stretchy, and there is a tendency for your shortbread cookies to become hard.
The best way to roll and cut the sugared shortbread cookies
- This cookie dough is slightly crumbly but soft. It does not stick to the finger but does tend to stick a little to the rolling pin as you roll it. For smooth rolling, divide the dough into smaller sections and roll each section between 2 parchment sheets. That way, it does not stick to the rolling pin and a lot easier to work with.
- And when lifting the cut shortbread onto baking trays, it is really helpful to use a flat spatula or an icing scraper. These tools help in retaining the shape of the cookies as they are transferred to the baking tray.
Do the cookies rise or spread when baking?
- These sugared cookies can be placed close to one another in the baking tray. That is because they do not rise in size or spread during baking. They do puff up a little, but it’s almost negligible.
- There is also no need to refrigerate the sugared cookies before baking. They are able to retain their shape without the need to be chilled first before baking.
- Hence, when placing these sugared shortbread cookies in a baking tray for baking, a mere gap of about 1cm to 2 cm is sufficient, for easy handling.
How to color the sanding sugar
- The blue and turquoise sanding sugar I used on my butterfly sugared shortbread cookies is homemade. All you need is coarse sugar and gel-based food color.
- It is best to use gel-based colors. Liquid color can leave your sugar wet, and you would need a long time to allow it to dry up and ready to use.
Should you adjust the baking time for different cookie sizes?
- The baking time indicated in my sugared shortbread cookies recipe below is for butterfly-shaped cookies measuring approximately 6cm by 4 cm. The thickness is about ½ cm.
- If your sugared cookies are larger or thicker than this, the baking time would need to be increased accordingly. And if they are smaller, then the time needs to be reduced as such.
How to store the sugared shortbread cookies to retain their crisp and crumbly texture
- This sugared shortbread cookies recipe yields shortbread cookies that last well. I have tried keeping them for 3 weeks, and they were fine. Just remember to store them in an airtight container to retain their crispiness.
Butterfly Sugared Shortbread Cookies Recipe
Here the full printable version of my sugared shortbread cookies:
Butterfly Sugared Shortbread Cookies
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 200 g butter salted
- 300 g plain flour
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
Colored Sanding Sugar for Decoration
- 140 g coarse sugar
- green and turquoise food color gel based
- Preheat oven to 175°Celsius. Line baking trays with parchment paper.
- Start by making the sanding sugar. Divide the coarse sugar equally into 2 bowls. Add a drop of the turquoise food color in one bowl and the green food color in another.
- Mix the sugar with a spoon until the color is all well distributed. Add more color if you wish to have a deeper color. Leave the colored sugar aside to dry.
- In a separate mdeium sized bowl, add the butter. Sift in teh flour and mix both on low speed until it turns crumbly. You can also use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter into the flour or rub it in with the tips of your fingers.
- Stir in the sugar and mix well, followed by the vanilla essence. The mixture would still be crumbly at this stage.
- Turn the dough onto a clean workspace and press it together to form a ball.
- Divide the dough into smaller sections and roll each section between 2 parchment sheets.
- Peel off the top parchment sheet and cut out the cookie dough with a cookie cutter. Carefully lift the cut cookies, with a flat spatula, neaten the edges and transfer onto the baking tray.
- Sprinkle the colored sanding sugar on top of each cookie and press it in softly with your fingertips.
- Bake the sugared shortbread cookies for approximately 12 to 15 minutes until the sides of the cookies start to turn light gold.
- Remove cookies from oven. Let them rest in the tray for a few minutes before transfering them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store the sugared cookies in an airtight container.
Quick and Easy Sugared Shortbread Cookies Recipe
And that’s pretty much my sugared shortbread cookies. Here are my other posts you might want to check out:
- 3 Ingredients Shortbread Cookies
- Jam Filled Shortbread Cookies
- Matcha Shortbread Cookies with White Chocolate and Glaze Icing
- Snowflake Cookies
Happy baking 🙂