Oak Leaves & Acorns Shortbread Cookies

Nov 21, 2020 | Food, Living


This recipe makes shortbread cookies that are almost impossibly light and delicate. Since they are not super moist, I recommend enjoying them with a hearty spoonful of jam or icing and a nice cup of tea.



• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 4 oz unsalted European butter, room temperature
• 1/8 tsp table salt
• 1/4 cup powdered sugar
• 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
• Generous 1/4 tsp GEL food coloring per batch of dough (you’ll need red, yellow, & blue)
• Hershey’s Kisses
• Mini Nutter Butter cookies
• Chocolate chips (dark, milk, butterscotch, white, caramel, or cinnamon)
• Icing with small piping tip


• To add extra sweetness and texture, sprinkle caster sugar over the tops before baking.
• Jazz up the flavor by adding fresh citrus zest, spices, or a combination of extracts that equal 3/4 tsp. (For example, use 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract.)
• My favorite flavor combo: Add the zest of a small lemon, 1/4 tsp almond extract, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp lavender extract. So fragrant!


1. Heat your oven to 325°F.

2. Mix the flour, butter, salt, powdered sugar, and food coloring on low until crumbly, about 30 seconds, then turn the mixer up to medium and simply combine until a dough forms. Use your hands to shape it into a soft ball. It will feel and look like playdough. Repeat 3 times so you end up with four batches of dough in fall colors: red, orange, yellow, and brown. (Red and yellow make orange, and a big squeeze of red with a small squeeze of yellow and a drop of blue makes brown.)

3. Once you have all four colors, lay out a sheet of parchment paper and begin to pinch off large pieces of dough, dropping them together into a colorful rectangular formation. Be sure to leave several inches of empty paper around the edges. Lay another sheet of parchment over the top and gently roll the dough out into a thick, even layer between the two sheets of paper. Transfer directly onto a clean cookie sheet. Remove the top layer of parchment, punch out leaves with a cookie cutter shaped like an oak leaf, and carefully remove the excess dough, setting it aside to roll out once more if you’d like to make additional cookies. This recipe will make 2-3 sheets.

4. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until the surfaces have a matte finish and no longer look wet or glossy. Allow to cool, then decorate or leave them just as they are.

5. To create the acorns, simply use your icing to fasten Hershey’s kisses to the Nutter Butter cookies. Allow them to sit upside down for a few minutes so the icing can firm up, then pipe tiny drops of icing onto the tops and add a chocolate chip to each one.

Note: You can make these cookies with another shortbread recipe, but please do not use sugar cookie dough since it contains ingredients like baking powder or baking soda that cause it to puff up — you will lose the beautiful leaf shapes!

Madeleine Dee (AKA The Seasoned Cynic) is a chef, writer, actress, world traveler, and filmmaker who lives in Louisville. Watch her cooking show, Easy Elegance, on YouTube.

P.S. These tasty, time-saving desserts can be picked up for a tantalizing finish to your holiday meals.


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