Whole Wheat Shortbread Cookies

It amazes me how some recipes slip through the cracks. This is one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes, and somehow I never shared it here. This lead me to realize that there are still several more of my all-time favorites that have never made it onto the site. I plan to remedy that in the coming weeks. But these cookies! These cookies are really something.

I could probably have started a blog that only featured recipes for coffee cakes and shortbread cookies. I will never tire of either (hopefully you won’t either!). These are pretty much my ideal shortbread cookie. They have some whole wheat flour thrown in, but don’t let that fool you. They still contain a pound of butter. Never fear, the recipe makes a lot of cookies and as long as you share them with others, you’ll be fine. They are the most delicate and crumbly shortbread cookies I have ever eaten. The whole wheat flour adds a nuttiness that is irresistible.

The recipe comes from the supremely talented Zoe Nathan. I first had them at Huckleberry in Santa Monica a couple of years ago. Some of you will love that the measurements are given in weight, some of you will hate it. It is part of my relentless crusade to get Americans to buy kitchen scales. Also, I was too lazy to convert this myself.

I like to roll my cookies out a little thinner than Nathan does, but you can do what you like. These keep well for at least a week, but because they are so delicate they don’t travel very well. This dough is surprisingly easy to work with, and rolling them out is a breeze. I use two sugars here, granulated in the cookies and superfine for the coating. You can certainly use one or the other for both. And finally, do not eat these while they are warm. Seriously, don’t. They need to chill out for a while.

In other news, I am so happy to have been selected by the editors at Saveur as a finalist for their annual food blog awards. My category, Best Cooking Blog, includes 101 Cookbooks, The Wednesday Chef, Smitten Kitchen, I Made That!, and Sprouted Kitchen. Can you believe that group I am included in?! All favorites of mine and they all should win! Saveur did a great job of selecting blogs that really represent the scope of what is out there. I hope you’ll all vote for your favorites!

Whole Wheat Shortbread Cookies (adapted from Zoe Nathan)

  • 10.5 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 5.5 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 4.75 ounces cornstarch
  • 16 ounces Plugra butter, at cool room temperature (Plugra is suggested because it is high in fat, you can use your standard butter)
  • 4.75 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • superfine sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose and whole wheat flours with the cornstarch.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine thoroughly, but be careful not to overmix.

Shape cookies by rolling them out on a flour-dusted working surface (I roll mine to about 1/4-inch) and cutting them out with cookie cutters into desired shapes. Arrange them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and bake until the cookies are brown around the edges, 10-15 minutes. Remove them from oven and let cool on pan for 2 minutes. Dust generously with superfine sugar. Allow to cool on pans before moving to an airtight container for storage. Makes a bunch of cookies, depending on the thickness you roll dough and size of cutter. I usually get 3-4 dozen with a 2-inch circle cutter.

31 comments to “Whole Wheat Shortbread Cookies”

  1. These are gorgeous — and they look like the perfect vessels for tiny iced-cream sandwiches! Yum. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  2. Those look gorgeous. Love the whole wheat flour, I bet it adds great flavor :)

  3. These look wonderful, with so many variant possibilities. Congrats on being selected for an award, very deserving.

    -Brenda

  4. Since you post such incredible cookie recipes, this one is sure to grace my oven soon. I love the idea of a whole wheat touched shortbread, it will add so much flavor!

    PS HUGE congrats on the nomination!

  5. Had one of these guys on a bakery crawl that included Huckleberry. Outstanding cookies, they are! Congrats on your nom! Good luck.

  6. these look fantastic!! I would love MORE shortbread recipes. Have you ever made them with white whole wheat flour?
    Good luck on the award!!!

  7. Duo Dishes- A bakery crawl sounds like the best idea ever. Ever.

  8. jane- I haven’t used white whole wheat flour yet, have you? I’ve been curious.

  9. Congratulations on the nomination – and as much as I love coffee cakes and shortbread cookies, pleas don’t limit your blog to recipes of them! I know what you mean, but you have posted so many things I have actually cooked! And not many of them are cookies. I think I will have to try these, though. They somehow seem to join a perfect crumb with the earthiness of whole wheat flour: I would have thought it was impossible.

  10. Don’t worry, Caffettiera, I will continue to do it all!

  11. I love the nuttiness of whole wheat flour in my baked goods, these sound right up my ally. Congrats on the nomination too! Well deserved.

  12. we adore whole wheat shortbread, and yes, it’s all about the flavor. love the addition of superfine sugar on top.

    and on principle? love anything that involves high fat butter + whole grain flour ;)

  13. These cookies are a huge problem for me because when I read ‘whole wheat’ I actually see ‘eat as many as you want, they’re good for you, go on, have 20.’ Slippery slope! Nevertheless, thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to make ‘em and smash them together with raspberry jam :)

  14. Kudos on the nomination Tim! Oh, and the cookies too… Those look fantastic. What exactly is Plugra butter? Is it something special or can regular butter be used?

  15. Kartik- Sorry! I should have explained that. Plugra is suggested because it is high in fat and will produce especially lovely cookies. You can certainly use your normal butter.

  16. Such lovely cookies! And congrats on your nomination! You must be supremely proud!

  17. Shortbread has to be my all-time favorite type of cookie. These look so crispy and delicious and I look forward to trying them.

    Congratulations on your nomination!

  18. Ditto on the bakery crawl being the best idea ever. Dang. These cookies sound super! I’m not positive that it produces a shortbread cookie exactly (the difference being less butter?), but the recipe for sugar cookies in Sunday Suppers at Lucques is amazing.

    And congrats on your nomination. Well deserved!

  19. I love whole wheat shortbread but I make it with alice medrich’s whole wheat shortbread recipe with cocoa nibs. One time I had only whole wheat flour, no all purpose and the cookies were divine. May I also suggest these cookies: http://www.sugoodsweets.com/blog/2008/05/seaweedcookies/

  20. here is where I got the alice medrich recipe by the way (because I love luisa, and always will): http://wednesdaychef.typepad.com/the_wednesday_chef/2007/11/alice-medrichs.html

  21. These are gorgeous, Tim. Shortbread cookies are right up there on my favorite cookie list – jostling for top spot with the classic chocolate chip cookie. I’ve never added whole wheat flour to mine, but that is a nice way to feel less guilty about eating an extra one. Or three.

  22. Congrats on the nod from Saveur, by the way. Totally deserving.

  23. you’re in, what I like to call, The Best Picture Category. congrats, Tim!!!

  24. These cookies look and sound divine! I am not sure about sharing them with other people.

  25. Give me shortbread cookies over any others any day! These look divine and with whole wheat flour, I can pretend it’s somewhat healthy. Ahem. Sadly, I’m of the what?-I-have-to-weigh-this? camp. Eventually I’ll get over it.

    Congrats on the nomination. You’re right, great blogs all but I know who has my vote.

  26. They look great! I never tire of shortbread cookies, either. Or coffee cakes, for that matter. :)

  27. I have to try this recipe! I use 1/2 spelt flour and 1/2 regular in mine, no cornstarch, and make them about 1/2 inch thick.

  28. never met a shortbread cookie i couldn’t choke down. i’m so making these. probably today. and i’m glad for the whole wheat flour; it needs pulling out of it’s step-child mode when it comes to baking.

    and……INSANELY happy for your nomination!!! truly well deserved!!!!

  29. can we use pure vanilla extract in this recipe?

  30. Hi Eva- You could, but I wouldn’t. It will interefere with what I like about the flavor of these- buttery, nuttiness. It just isn’t needed.

  31. Thanks for sharing a not-too-sweet shortbread recipe! I chopped up a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and added it to the dough; mmm, so good!

What do you think?