Hibiscus Tea and Poppy Seed Shortbread

Last week I bought a tin of hibiscus tea, and the moment I looked into my first freshly brewed cup, I knew it was destined to be a star ingredient in something sweet!

I recently read that infusing loose tea with butter creates a strong flavor for use in baked goods. So, my first order of business – make hibiscus tea butter. It was so easy and turned out beautifully! It’s hard to explain, but there was something very special about preparing the tea butter. I immediately wanted to use as much of it as possible. My first thought – shortbread.

As I mixed the magenta-hued butter into sugar and flour, I witnessed a magical color transformation from bright pink-red to purple. This kind of surprise is the best kind of surprise.

Now, in theory this steeping method should work with just about any tea, but I can only vouch for Republic of Tea’s Natural Hibiscus Superflower in bags. Since I didn’t purchase the loose tea, I just opened the tea bags and poured the contents into a 1/4 cup measure. I can’t wait to try this method with an Earl Grey and varieties of my new favorite brand of tea- Kusmi.

A couple of happenings:

  • I’m so excited to be featured in Country Woman’s “Blog and Crafter Spotlight”. For those Country Woman Magazine subscribers, look for one of my recipes in their June/July issue.
  • Amazon is shipping my book early! Holy wow. So many people already have their copy and I’ve been receiving so many kind messages about it. I’m very grateful to those supporting my fun and unconventional baking book.

I really love the raspberry-rhubarb scent that the tea butter gave the cookie, and the poppy seeds give it a subtle texture.

These are very nice with… tea!

Hibiscus Tea & Poppy Seed Shortbread

Yield: Twenty four 3-inch cut-out cookies                                                                    [click for printable version]

First, make the hibiscus tea butter. 

(I first read about this method on Stefani Pollack’s awesome blog “Cupcake Project“)

1 pound, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces

¼ cup Republic of Tea Hibiscus Superflower tea (about 20 bags)

  1. Place butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  When butter begins to melt and pool in the bottom of the saucepan, pour in the loose tea. Stir occasionally.  When butter is completely melted and mixture is hot, remove from heat source.  Allow the tea to steep for several minutes until it is a bright, red-pink.
  2. Place a large sieve over a bowl and line the sieve with a tea towel (one that you don’t mind getting stained).  Pour melted tea butter through the towel-lined sieve and let stand for a few minutes.  Gather the towel together at the top and squeeze out as much of the melted butter as possible (you may want to use gloves, as this tea will stain hands). 
  3. Place bowl of melted butter in the refrigerator until partially firm, then stir until the butter is a consistent color.  Cover and keep refrigerated until ready for use.  The shortbread cookie recipe requires one pound of tea butter, be sure to measure it out before you begin making the cookies.  You will have a small amount of tea butter left over. 

Make the cookies:

(adapted from the SprinkleBakes book!)

1 pound prepared hibiscus tea butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup poppy seeds plus extra for sprinkling

2-4 tablespoons cold water

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.
  4. Add 2 cups of the flour and salt and mix on low speed until crumbly. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and mix again on low speed.  Stir in the poppy seeds on the lowest mixer setting. Mixture will be crumbly.  Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until a stiff dough forms.  Dough should not be sticky.
  5. Gather the dough together with your hands and place on parchment paper. Divide into two pieces. Roll each piece of dough between sheets of parchment until flattened to about a 1-inch thickness.
  6. Wrap the dough in plastic film and place the pieces on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. This dough will firm up quickly because of the high butter content.
  7. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  8. While it’s still cold, roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. If the dough is difficult to roll, let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes until it is pliable. Use rolling-pin guide bands for evenly rolled shortbread.
  9. Cut the dough into desired shapes and place them on cookie sheets spaced 1 ½ inches apart.  Sprinkle cut-outs with extra poppy seeds. Transfer the pans of cut-outs to the freezer and chill until frozen solid.  This will help the cut-outs keep their shape while baking.  Remove pans from freezer and bake until fragrant:

• 7 to 10 minutes for small cookies

• 12 to 15 minutes for medium cookies

• 17 to 20 minutes for large cookies

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
9 years ago

Yum! This looks so fabulous!

Shannon
Shannon
9 years ago

Oh wow! I lovee hibiscus tea, so I am sure this would be amazing

Tora
Tora
9 years ago

This is amazing, I feel like making butter with tea all over the place right now! Your images are so beautiful and decadent! Thank you for sharing. Incredible! (And that purple colour – a wonderful surprise!)

Cookbook Queen
Cookbook Queen
9 years ago

This is beautiful! I love the way your mind works.

And Congratulations on the book, chickie!! I have no doubt it will be a huge success!!!

Velva
Velva
9 years ago

What a way to make butter talk to you….Its beautiful.

Velva

amanda @ fake ginger
amanda @ fake ginger
9 years ago

So pretty! I love the color.

Rosa's Yummy Yums
Rosa's Yummy Yums
9 years ago

Those shortbreads are so original and pretty! A great chose of flavor. Hibiscus flowers have such a wonderful color.

Cheers,

Rosa

cookies and cups
cookies and cups
9 years ago

I bought a similar tea a few weeks ago…why in the world didn't I think to bake with it?
You're pretty smart!

Heather
Heather
9 years ago

I LOVE using tea in sweets! This is such a great idea! Tea butter? I can't wait to try this!

Maria
Maria
9 years ago

Beautiful shortbread!

Laurie {Simply Scratch}
Laurie {Simply Scratch}
9 years ago

Ohhh I can only imagine how delicious these must be! Love!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago

I've always loved making pink lemonade with hibiscus tea, but never thought to use it in baking! These look simply lovely. (As do all your creations, of course—I've been a long-time lurker.)

Dana
Dana
9 years ago

Do you really get a lot of the tea flavor in the cookies? This has boundless potential applications. Awesome!!!

The Devil's Food Advocate
The Devil's Food Advocate
9 years ago

What a beautiful cookie; and the potential for other variations should yield some equally fun results! Thank you, as always, for the inspiration.

Emma
Emma
9 years ago

I've played around with plenty of shortbread flavors, including tea, but have never thought to alter the cookie color as well. Clever – now I just have to start liking fruity teas enough to purchase some:)

Rebecca
Rebecca
9 years ago

You WOULD like Kusmi, the packaging is so beautiful! Do you know about Mariage Freres? You might like that too.

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

*yummm* buttery cookies and tea mesh so well together – – and now that you've combined the two I'm intrigued 🙂 Not to mention the fact that the colour of these cookies alone are blowing me away.

Averie @ Averie Cooks
Averie @ Averie Cooks
9 years ago

Hibiscus Tea is so delicious and I would have never thought to bake with it…you're so creative!

Unknown
Unknown
9 years ago

Wow these look amazing. Thank you the inpsiring idea. I have some loose hibiscus tea and every time I have a cup I think there must be some way of using it in baking. I'm definitely going to give these a try especially as purple is my favourite colour 🙂

Heather (Heather's Dish)
Heather (Heather's Dish)
9 years ago

these look and sound so elegant! i love the beautiful colors 🙂

vanillasugarblog
vanillasugarblog
9 years ago

congrats on the article, i will go read later….
as for the shortbread, wow.
i love steeping, i mean its a lot of work but the flavor that comes later is worth it.
this is how i feel when i make batches of raspberry coulis in the summer–my favorite.

Chic, chic, chocolat
Chic, chic, chocolat
9 years ago

J'essaye dés demain, tellement j'aime cette idée!

Eileen
Eileen
9 years ago

Ok, these look thoroughly amazing! My first thought–a very weird one–was that I must make these for my friends' holiday cookie exchange in about eight months. What? They'll clearly knock everyone's socks off! Of course I must try them in the much nearer future as well. 🙂

Lora
Lora
9 years ago

These look so sweet. What a great tip about making tea butter. Thanks!

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

in one of your pictures it looks like you are squeezing someone's heart and it is dripping blod. whaaaat? just kidding heather your cookies look fantastic and friendly. i wonder what i read these days to get such gruesome thoughts in my mind… im sorry. 🙂

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
9 years ago

…maybe I'm hiding a gruesome act in plain sight.

I kid, I kid. 🙂

Paula
Paula
9 years ago

Congratulations on the feature! How lovely that the pink turned into this lovely shade of purple, almost a dark lavender! The shortbread cookies look beautiful.

Laura in DC
Laura in DC
9 years ago

These look great! Would love to pair them with some other shortbreads (green tea, earl grey, chocolate and regular). In DC there is a place called Teaism that sells a trio of shortbreads (green tea, choc, earl).

And a shout out for the new book. It's fabulous!!! Congratulations and thanks for writing it (and taking such great photos)!

Leah
Leah
9 years ago

These look so pretty, i really love hibiscus tea!

Julia @The Roasted Root
Julia @The Roasted Root
9 years ago

Oh no way, I've never seen anything like this! Now that I have read your helpful tip about infusing butter with tea, I'm definitely going to try it. I drink hot tea literally every day (even in the summer months) and have never tried hibiscus, so your post has given me all sorts of inspiration to try new things. The shortbread looks awesome; looking forward to trying it!

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

How pretty!

Sara {HomeIsWhereTheCookiesAre.com}
Sara {HomeIsWhereTheCookiesAre.com}
9 years ago

Wow! I love this! I was trying to think of a way to incorporate my mom's favorite tea into a sweet treat for Mother's day – and I have been craving shortbread too – why couldn't I bring these two together?? Thanks so so much! Adorable cookies, and lovely idea!

Javelin Warrior
Javelin Warrior
9 years ago

These are so beautiful and I love how the hibiscus turns the cookies such a lovely shade of purple. I had no idea hibiscus could do this, so very impressed. I am featuring this post in today's Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. As always, it's a pleasure to be following your creations…

hat methi
hat methi
9 years ago

Oh wow! I lovee hibiscus tea, so I am sure this would be amazing

thelittleloaf
thelittleloaf
9 years ago

I absolutely love the idea of infusing butter with tea and the colour of these biscuits is incredible.

Pan Cuisine
Pan Cuisine
9 years ago

Heather, this is awesome…can anything be more vibrant? I drool…:)

Catalina @ Cake with Love
Catalina @ Cake with Love
9 years ago

OMG these are so cute, I love, Love the color!!

Stef
Stef
9 years ago

Beautiful as always! I can't wait to see what else you do with tea. It has so many possibilities. Thanks for the sweet shout out, glad I could help in some small way.

Ashley
Ashley
9 years ago

OMG I recently found a place by me that sells dried hibiscus flowers, and I had been trying to think of something to make with them. You read my mind 🙂 Thanks!

Eat Breathe Live Color
Eat Breathe Live Color
9 years ago

This looks so beautiful! I love your use of color – and the photography is gorgeous! LOVE!

Mijú
Mijú
9 years ago

Que fotos tan llamativas.
Un saludito

Laura @ Family Spice
Laura @ Family Spice
9 years ago

My favorite tea is my Persian black tea with cardamom. I need to try some of these lovely floral teas!

Unknown
Unknown
9 years ago

I am all kinds of in love with this post. xoxo

Cupcake and Talk
Cupcake and Talk
9 years ago

Beautiful! The shortbread cookies look amazing and color came out perfect. Thank you for the recipe.

Asmita
Asmita
9 years ago

BEAUTIFUL!

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

My church has had a Lavender Ladies' Luncheon fo at least 55 years for the ladies seventy and over in our community.I will have to try these and hopefully share them with the women that plan it.I hope the poppy seed is optional because many of the women cannot have them-including my dear mother- in-law who remembers working at these luncheons as a young matron and now attends them.
Mary Cay at marycmartin@hotmail.com

Deb
Deb
9 years ago

Adore the vibrant lavender color, great little cookies! Thanks for sharing the technique for infusing the butter with the tea. It is new to me and I am looking forward to trying it.

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

These are so beautiful and I can only imagine how delightful they must taste! I've made an earl grey shortbread before that actually used the tea leaves, but I love the idea of flavouring the butter. I look forward to giving this a try very soon!

Nina
Nina
9 years ago

Just like boiled cabbage, hibiscus functions as a pH indicator. If you've ever added lemon juice to hibiscus tea you would of seen it in action.

Jen @ Jens Favorite Cookies
Jen @ Jens Favorite Cookies
9 years ago

Wow, I don't even know what to say. These are gorgeous! I've never heard of flavoring butter with tea, but I now MUST try it. I bet it would give a wonderful subtle flavor to the baked goods. Definitely pinning this one!