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Maple Walnut Shortbread

Maple Walnut Shortbread

September 17, 2013


The International Culinary Center


  • 3/4 Cups maple syrup
  • 2/3 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup butter, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup walnuts
  • 2 1/2 flour


Place maple syrup in a pan over a burner and reduce by 1/3. Add to sugar and pulse in food processor until uniform. Cream butter and sugar. Add pinch salt and vanilla extract. Add walnuts and flour all at once. Mix just to combine. Form dough into 2 logs, 1½ inches in diameter. Freeze. Cut into ¼-inch slices. Arrange on sheet pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Cool on cooling racks.

Nutritional Facts


Calories Per Serving240

Folate equivalent (total)2µgN/A

Riboflavin (B2)0.3mg15.3%

Vermont Maple Shortbread

Maple is practically synonymous with Vermont, and as good Vermonters, we like to make sure we have an ample stash of recipes using every form of it. This shortbread is a great alternative to its traditional vanilla counterpart. With its bold flavor (from both maple sugar and syrup), any maple lover is sure to devour these.


  • 16 tablespoons (227g) unsalted butter, room temperature, at least 65°F
  • 3/4 cup (117g) pure maple sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple flavor, optional, for enhanced flavor
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla-butternut flavor, optional, for enhanced flavor
  • 2 1/2 cups (298g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (113g) chopped pecans or walnuts, optional


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush it onto the bottom and sides of a shortbread pan. Alternatively rub soft butter onto the bottom and sides of an 8" round pan.

Beat together the remaining 15 tablespoons butter, maple sugar, salt, and flavors until well blended.

Weigh your flour or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix in the flour to form a smooth, cohesive dough. The dough will be crumbly at first, but will come together as it's mixed.

Divide the dough in half. Wrap one half in plastic and set aside. Press the second half into the prepared pan.

Use a fork to prick the dough all over this allows any steam to escape, and prevents the shortbread from bubbling as it bakes.

Bake the shortbread for 25 to 30 minutes, until the surface is a light golden brown, and the edges are a darker golden brown.

Remove the shortbread from the oven, and immediately turn it out onto a clean work surface. Gently brush the shortbread with the maple syrup (you want to be careful not to brush away the pattern if you used a shortbread pan).

Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut the shortbread while still warm into 8 equal wedges and transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Repeat the bake with the remaining half of dough.

Store the shortbread, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days freeze for longer storage.

Shortbread cookies are the pie crust of cookies, an easy recipe with no leaving ingredients (think baking soda and baking powder here) that comes together in just a few minutes. Because there isn’t anything to make these cookies rise your cookies go in and come out of the oven the same size, so they’re perfect for shapes and cutting into slices like my Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies and Linzer Cookies.

I keep it simple here with perfect circles but remember when slicing cookies into circles the most important thing is to keep the cookie dough very cold. If you let it get too warm the cookie dough will smash down on one edge creating a flat side. If you’d like, you can even freeze the dough for and hour.

And easy trick for cutting these cookies perfectly is to actually use thread to cut the dough so the weight of the knife’s blade doesn’t smash the shape of the cookie.

Maple Walnut Shortbread - Recipes

So, inspired by the recent success of our lemon basil shortbread, it only made since that our next test kitchen experiment would be maple walnut shortbread.

We still had plenty of Grade B Maple Syrup left, even though Anne used some in her delicious Brazilian Stew the other night (be sure to look for that recipe in the near future!).

So we thought – why not just take Ina’s basic shortbread recipe, take out the vanilla, add some maple syrup, reduce the sugar a bit, and add some toasted walnuts? Seems simple enough, right?

Maple Walnut Shortbread (adapted from Ina Garten’s basic shortbread recipe)

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, near room temperature
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and “smashed up a good bit” (see below)
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus a teaspoon or so more, if needed – see below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

You’re going to toast the walnuts first. So start with about 1 1/2 cups of whole walnuts, poured out on a pan. Cover them with a paper towel and smash them with a mallet (or, we used a fist) about 15 times or so until you’ve broken up all the large pieces. Toast them on the middle rack of your oven with the oven set to broil – stirring once or twice – for about 5 minutes, or until you really smell the oils coming out of them (but watch closely not to burn them).

When you take them out of the oven, smash them some more, until you are left with pieces no larger than a peanut, and plenty of walnut “dust.”

This picture shows very well the consistency you want – notice it’s a mixture of peanut-sized chunks and other pieces that have been pulverized into “walnut dust.” We believe that this dust is key to the texture and flavor of these cookies.

Now pack the walnut bits tightly into a 1-cup measuring cup, making sure to collect all the “dust” off the pan. Pour this 1 cup of toasted, smashed walnuts into a bowl to cool.

Sift together the salt and flour in a large bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the turbinado sugar (we used turbinado instead of white because we thought the darker color was more fitting for these ingredients). Also add the butter, cut into chunks (the butter should have been sitting out of the fridge for about half an hour, so it has just begun to soften).

Mix the butter and sugar on medium to combine well.

Measure out 1/3 cup of the maple syrup (alternatively, you could start with 2/3 cup and reduce to 1/3 cup by simmering in a saucepan – this would concentrate the flavor a bit more).

Add the syrup to the mixing bowl and blend on medium-low just to mix well.

Now dump the cup of walnuts into the bowl of flour, then gradually add the nuts and flour while the mixer is running on low.

A well-proportioned dough should form a ball on the paddle, coming cleanly off the sides of the bowl, as shown above (the dough left in the bowl in this image actually fell off the paddle a few seconds before we snapped this photo). If dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add just a bit more flour – just a teaspoon at a time – until the dough pulls cleanly off the sides of the bowl.

Remove the dough, form into a ball, and then flatten into a thick disk on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the refrigerated dough onto a flat surface. Flatten with a rolling pin to a thickness of 1/2″ (if refrigerated overnight, you may have to wait half an hour or so before the dough will be soft enough to work with the rolling pin). Then cut into cookies, which you will place directly onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

In an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees, bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges just start to brown. After about a minute of cooling, remove the cookies from the baking sheet onto a cooling rack.

These are our favorite shortbreads so far. They are much more moist and less crumbly than the typical shortbread, and the “walnut dust” gives them a more complex texture.

And the flavor just can’t be beat these cookies are just sweet enough, the toasted walnuts are very present, and the maple notes fill out the background ever so slyly. In fact, if you didn’t know these cookies had maple syrup in them, you probably wouldn’t be able to put your finger on the ingredient which adds that extra depth of flavor.

We’ll definitely be adding these cookies to our routine baking list. We hope you’ll give them a try!

In the meantime, what flavor combinations would you like to see in a shortbread cookie?

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Cut a piece of foil 8 by 16-inches. Butter the corners and sides of an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Line the pan with the foil, leaving an overhang on two sides.

2. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the egg yolk, syrup, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds if using. Reduce the speed to low, add the flours and salt, all at once, and beat until just combined. Add the walnuts and continue to mix until fully combined.

3. Using your hands, drop the dough in pieces evenly into the prepared pan. Flour your hands lightly and press the dough together and into the corners of the pan. Put a piece of waxed paper on top of the dough and use something square and heavy-another pan, a pound of cold butter-to press the dough into the pan and make a smooth, even top. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. When it is firm, use a fork to score the dough all over. Bake until deep golden brown and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes. Cool completely on a rack, about 2 hours, then wrap with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature overnight.

5. Place a lightweight cutting board or a baking rack over the top of the pan. Flip and set on the counter. Gently pull the pan from the foil and the foil from the pan to lift off the pan. Gently peel the foil off the bar. Place another lightweight cutting board on top, and flip the bar right-side-up.

6. Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice the square in half. Then slice each half into 8 bars.

Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies

Buttery, sweet, maple-infused shortbread gets a bit of extra crunch from walnuts.


  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
  • ¼ cups Light Brown Sugar
  • ⅓ cups Maple Syrup
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ cups Walnuts, Chopped Finely
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar, For Topping
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1 pinch Salt


In the bowl of a stand mixer using paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and maple syrup. In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour and salt and fold it into the batter. Stir in the walnuts. Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic and refrigerate for a half hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a parchment paper lined sheet pan until it’s nice and thin. Cut it with a maple leaf (or other) cutter but leave the cookie in place and just peel the dough scraps away from the sides. You can keep the cookies pretty close together because this dough will not spread in the oven. Sprinkle the top of the cookies with the tablespoon of sugar and bake for approximately 16 minutes. The cookie edges will be light brown but the cookie itself will still be soft. Remove from the oven and let cookies rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes until the cookies harden a bit. Transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Re-roll the dough scraps to make additional cookies.

To make the glaze, whisk the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and salt in a small bowl. Drizzle over cooled cookies, if desired.

The best things in life are simple and sweet, which is exactly why we love these shortbread cookie recipes so much. Brought stateside by Scottish immigrants, shortbread cookies (sometimes called biscuit, especially by our friends in the U.K.) are generally made from a combination of all-purpose flour, granulated or confectioner's sugar, and lots of butter. Flavorings such as vanilla or almond extract may be added to the dough, as well as chopped or ground nuts, fresh citrus zest, or cocoa powder. Here, we're sharing our best buttery and flaky shortbread cookie recipes.

While there are many delicious variations worth mastering, you'll want to start with our Classic Shortbread cookie recipe. The process is so simple&mdashcombine all of the ingredients together and mix to form a dough, press into a pan, refrigerate, then bake and enjoy! Whether you eat them on their own or pair them with a cup of tea, there's no mistaking just how good these cookies are.

If you're a chocolate lover, then you'll adore our recipe for Mocha Shortbread a tablespoon of instant espresso powder enhances the chocolate flavor. Looking for a subtler chocolate flavor? Try a batch of Oat-and-Spelt Shortbread, which are nutty cookies dipped in melted chocolate and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. The balance is just right. For the holidays, why not serve a batch of Meyer-Lemon Shortbread Wreath Cookies? Adorned with sugared thyme and rosemary&mdashas well as red, white, and green sprinkles&mdashthey're the most stunning (and edible) holiday greenery.

Grab a few sticks of butter, cookie cutters or a tart pan, and get baking.

Cook's Notes

I like a combination of pecans and walnuts in these squares. Use what you have or like.

If neatness of squares is important (for presentation), once cooled, remove to a cutting board and cut off all the edges by about 1/2-3/4 inch, then cut the remaining piece in to equal squares.

While these are sweet, they are not over-the-top sweet. The nuts do a great job of tempering the sweetness, especially slightly bitter walnuts.

If you like the sweet/salty combination, sprinkle some finishing salt (like Maldon's/Fleur de Sel) on top as soon as the squares come out of the oven.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Combine the flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar in a mixer. Mix in the softened butter until a dough has formed. Press into an ungreased 8x8-inch baking dish, and prick with a fork.

Bake the shortbread in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. While the shortbread is baking, beat the egg in a mixing bowl along with 1/3 cup brown sugar, maple syrup, and pecans. Pour the pecan mixture over the hot crust, and return to the oven. Continue baking until firmed, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and immediately run a knife around the edges to prevent sticking. Cool completely, then cut into 1-inch squares to serve.

  • Cinnamon Shortbread Crust
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into 4-6 pieces
  • Walnut Maple Topping
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×9-inch square pan with aluminum foil.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the crust ingredients. Pulse several times until a coarse, sandy mixture forms. Pour into prepared baking dish and press into an even layer.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until crust is very lightly browned around the edges.
Spread walnuts in an even layer over the still-warm crust (crust does not need to cool before filling).
In a medium bowl, make the rest of the topping. Whisk together sugar, maple syrup, eggs and melted butter until very smooth. Add in flour vanilla and whisk until well combined. Pour over walnuts and put the baking pan back in the oven.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tart is set and topping is golden brown.
Cool bars completely in the pan, then use the aluminum foil to easily lift them out before slicing.

Walnut shortbread

Adapted from Miette: Recipes From San Francisco's Most Charming Pastry Shop by Meg Ray. The recipe states it'll make about 42 1-1/4" cookies when rolled 1/2" thick, but that didn't make sense to me based on the photo in the book. I rolled the dough about 1/4" thick and got around 60 cookies.


1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 egg yolk (the recipe didn't specify, but I used a large)

For the topping

flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, turning them every few minutes or so to cook evenly. They'll start to smell fragrant when they're ready. Do this ahead of time so they have time to cool.

Put the cooled nuts in the bowl of a food processor with a couple spoonfuls of the flour and process in about 5-second pulses until finely ground (the addition of flour here will help prevent the nuts from turning into nut butter). Combine the ground nuts, flour, and salt in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg yolk and continue mixing until combined. Turn the mixer down to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

If the dough is too soft, it can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for about 30 minutes before continuing. Otherwise, on a lightly floured surface, a silpat sheet, or a sheet of wax or parchment paper (whatever your preference), roll the dough out to 1/4? thickness (or 1/2" if you want to try the original recipe recommendation – maybe it'll work better for you). Using a ruler as a guide, square off the edges and cut the dough into 1" squares with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.

Transfer the squares to your baking sheet, about 2" apart, and sprinkle lightly with the coarse salt. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing the cookies from the pan and allowing them to cool completely.