Blood Orange Shortbread Cookies

December 14, 2015

Y’all!!!! It’s my favorite time of the year. Yes, you know the one! It’s cookie month and it’s citrus season! So when faced with the hard choice of making something with citrus or making cookies, I did the natural thing. I just used both. Obviously the perfect combination of everything in December is a candied blood orange shortbread cookie. This cookie is meant to knock Santa right off of his sled. Why be like all the other kids with their sadly decorated sugar cookies… am I right? Don’t worry I know I am.

Shortbread cookies are one of my favorite Christmas treats. Making the spice mixture for this just brought all the childhood Christmas memories back to me. Not to mention your entire home will smell like a beautiful poutperri bag of Christmas. You don’t even need that disgust Yankee Candle you bought last year scented like an evil gingerbread man! Consider that a win. There are, of course, many different recipes for shortbread, but this recipe calls for six distinct ingredients. This cookie is basically one step up from a 5 spice cookie. You’ll need: cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and vanilla bean.

You’ll want to start first by candying your oranges. Make sure that your orange slices are all roughly the same size. Remember when cutting your oranges you want to cut width wise not length wise. This will ensure that you get those beautiful flower shapes.

You can really candy your oranges in pretty much anything. For this cookie because the shortbread has a lot of kick to it, I wanted to keep my blood orange flavor but also give them a bit of sweetness to balance out all the kick in the shortbread. A simple candied fruit consists of sugar and water. It’s a very easy process, but it will take a chunk of time. About 40 – 50 minutes, so grab a book or find something else to do… like make your dough!

Cookie-Diptych copy New-Cookie

You’ll need to make your own spice mixture. Add all spices together including the insides of your vanilla beans. From there, you’ll add everything into a food processor to chop until the mixture is fine. Don’t get too worried if your anise doesn’t chop down into as fine of pieces as your other spices. The difference in texture will help to make a much more interesting texture for your cookie.

You’ll need to let your dough rest for about an hour or longer. Typically with shortbread dough, people with roll their dough into a cylinder and once the dough has rested cut slices. I find that everytime I do this my cookie tends to not be as even. The perfect shortbread cookie should be fairly stiff. It’s a Scottish biscuit, so think about it more as a tea biscuit consistency. You want something that won’t totally crumble if dipped in tea. Plus, because that moistness from your orange slices will soak into your cookie, you want your shortbread to be fairly crisp.


Once you’ve gotten your fruit cooled off and your dough cut, you can then start assembling your cookie and preheating your oven. Once your oven has been preheated, take one cookie and place on your cookie sheet. This will be your test cookie. Yes, baking is a science and if you want perfection it’s always a good idea to test one cookie first for you ultimate bake time. The cookie should bake to perfection at about 10 minutes. You want the cookie to be still fairly white/pale but slightly golden right at the edges. Shortbreads are not like sugar cookies and they will not brown nearly as much. So don’t try to get a shortbread cookie fairly brown at the edges, you’ll ruin it at that point. Once you’ve established your baking time you can begin baking your entire batch.


makes 16 cookies



2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

4 star anise

1 tsp cardamom

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 vanilla beans, scrape out inside

1 stick of cold unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 c sugar

1 c flour

1/4 tsp salt

Candied Blood Orange

16 slices of blood orange

1 cup sugar

1 cup water


  1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil until all of sugar has dissolved. Add in blood orange slices. Simmer for 40 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, remove blood oranges and let cool on a drying rack with a piece of parchment or paper towel underneath it.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom, ground ginger, and the inside of the vanilla beans. In a food processor, chop ingredients until a fine consistency.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk sugar, four, spices, and salt. Add in butter. Mix until dough resembles a course meal-like consistency. Gather dough and roll into a ball. Refrigerate for one hour.
  5. Roll out dough, using a cup or mason jar top, cut circle shapes into your dough. Shapes should be around the same size as your blood orange slices. The cookies will expand a bit so if your dough shapes are slightly smaller than one or two slices they should expand and become larger NO FEARS!
  6. Line your cut outs on your cookie sheets leaving about half an inch in between each cookie. Add one orange slice on top of each circular shape.
  7. Bake cookies for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the outsides are light golden. Remove and let cool on a drying rack.

And just like that, you’ve got one of the best cookies on Santa’s ride or die list. Happy Holidays!!!!

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  • Nat Rose

    Should you peel the blood oranges before?

    July 26, 2016 at 12:08 am Reply
    • Samantha Bolton

      Hi Nat,

      You do not need to peel the oranges. Because you candy the entire slice, the peels are completely edible and DELICIOUS! Let me know how it goes.



      August 8, 2016 at 11:09 pm Reply
  • Valerie Smith

    Should the blood oranges be peeled before placed in the water or before being placed on the cookie?

    July 26, 2016 at 12:10 am Reply
    • Samantha Bolton

      Hi Valerie,

      No need to peel these. You’ll candy the entire orange and the peels are completely edible. If you are really opposed to the peel, you could peel the orange before you candy the batch.



      August 8, 2016 at 11:11 pm Reply
  • Krysten

    Decided to make these on a whim as part of my usual cookie baking day. The recipe isn’t hard, but I found myself feeling overwhelmed, so perhaps this is best left as a stand alone project, rather than attempting with a bunch of other things going on (my fault!).

    For some reason I only got 8 cookies out of the dough. Mine look about the same thickness as the ones on the picture. Perhaps the cup I used to cut them out is larger than the cutter used here, but even so I don’t think I would have gotten another 8 cookies out of the extra dough that would have been saved from a slightly smaller cutter. I have a bunch of candied oranges left over, but there are worse problems to have. The cookies also spread a lot, so next time I would pop them in the freezer for a a few minutes before baking to keep a more rounded shape. They are delicious and worth the work!

    December 12, 2016 at 2:45 pm Reply
    • Samantha Bolton

      hm I’m not sure what I did differently from you. How big was your mason jar top? I’m thinking that had to be the major difference.

      January 23, 2017 at 4:42 am Reply
    • Samantha Bolton

      I’m not sure exactly sure what we did differently from one another. I wonder if it was our mason jar tops. How big was yours? Glad they at least tasted good, but I’m so sorry they didn’t make as much as my recipe had made for me!

      January 23, 2017 at 4:43 am Reply

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