With the same flavor profile as those famous airline cookies (in the red and white package), these Belgian Shortbread Cookies are crisp, buttery and crazy delicious!
Although Scott and I love to travel and enjoy the ease and speed of being able to fly to far away destinations, there are definitely parts of air travel that we're not fond of... ridiculously long queues at check-in and/or security, canceled or delayed flights, missed connections, airport food, long layovers... If you've traveled, you know exactly what I mean. There is one thing, on the other hand, that we LOVE about air travel - it's when the flight attendants start passing out snacks and we spot the Belgian Shortbread Cookies in the red and white packages coming our way!
Okay, they're actually called Biscoff but to me, they're Belgian Shortbread Cookies. Why? Well, they always remind me of shortbread with their crisp texture and buttery flavor and, although they're popular all over Europe, the UK and here in the States, they're made and originated in Belgium.
So there you have it, Belgian Shortbread Cookies, with the same flavor profile and crisp texture as Biscoff Cookies. But you don't have to take an expensive airline trip to enjoy them!
What spices are in Biscoff cookies?
The flavor of Biscoff is a delicious combination of brown sugar, giving the cookies a caramelized taste, along with classic spices traditionally used in crispy Belgian cookies called Speculoos. There are debates about the classic Speculoos spice combination but the blend generally includes cinnamon and smaller amounts of ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves. Some recipes also call for white pepper and anise.
I skipped the white pepper and anise as I don't like buying ingredients that I will seldom use and try to keep you from having to do that as well. If I close my eyes and take a bite of these Belgian Shortbread Cookies, it's pretty easy to imagine that I'm on an airline, headed to someplace fun, reading a good book and munching on those delicious cookies in the red and white package. In other words, I think the spice combination is just right!
A simple sprinkle of sugar while these cookies bake gives them a delightful extra crunch with each bite. I used my Vanilla Sugar for this photoshoot batch but regular granulated or cane sugar also work well.
A dream recipe
With the addition of the classic Speculoos spices, this Belgian-spiced shortbread recipe is adapted from the same one-bowl, no-mixer recipe that I use for almost all of my shortbread cookies. I call it a dream recipe because the dough comes together quickly with a short list of ingredients and doesn't need to be chilled before rolling. It can be rolled and re-rolled without getting tough and after a short chill in the fridge, the cutout cookies keep their shape well in the oven. They're crisp, buttery and melt-in-your-mouth-delicious!
Calling all shortbread lovers
By the way, if you love shortbread, you've definitely come to the right place as we have a deliciously staggering assortment of shortbread recipes here at The Café. There are renditions for just about every holiday you can imagine, drop shortbread, cutout versions, peanut butter, blueberry, pumpkin, chocolate chip, lemon, Mexican, French, Irish, even little square shortbread bites. See what I mean? You've come to the right place! Check out the whole shortbread collection here.
You probably have everything you need to make these Belgian Shortbread Cookies. Check out the ingredient list and pick up any spices that you're missing. They're all pretty common and will be good to have in your collection. You'll also want to checkout the Café Tips below where we share lots of little tidbits to ensure success with our recipes.
A gift that keeps on giving
Before I sign off and let you start baking yourself, I have a little gift for you.
A free printable label that you can use for gifting these cookies, (pictured above and below).
If you'd like to receive the labels, just leave us a comment in the comment section below this post. We'll email you a PDF for the labels along with instructions on how to print them. Then you can use our gift to gift these delicious cookies to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers... the gift the keeps on giving! Happy Baking!
Café Tips for making these Belgian Shortbread Cookies
- These Belgian Shortbread cookies get a sprinkle of sugar on the top. Although you can do that right away, I like to let them bake for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and flatten any puffy places with a flat metal spatula. Then I sprinkle the cookies with the sugar and return them to the oven for the remainder of the baking time. This results in nice flat cookies with a pretty sprinkle.
- I like to use cane sugar for the sprinkling mixture. Cane sugar is just a little bit coarser than granulated sugar (which will also work fine).
- Because this recipe doesn't call for a mixer, you want the butter to be nice and soft. You can leave butter sit out at room temperature to soften, but if the air is chilly it won't get soft enough. Here are a few easy tricks for softening butter.
- You can soften the butter in the microwave at a 10% power level. It works like magic. You’ll need to experiment a bit with your microwave though, as they’re all different. Start with 1 minute. Add 20 to 30-second increments until you learn how long your microwave will take to get the butter nice and soft, but not melted.
- Another technique I often use to soften butter is to put it in the microwave for 30 minutes to an hour with the light on. To keep the light on in the microwave, I put a folded paper towel in the door. Don't leave the butter in the microwave for too long though. I forgot about it a few days ago and was amazed when I opened the door and found a plate of melted butter!
- Boil a cup of water in the microwave for 3-4 minutes and get things nice and steamy. Leave the water cup in the microwave, add the butter and close the door. The warmth from the steamy water will help to quickly soften the butter within 20-30 minutes.
- Cutting the butter into small pieces helps it soften quicker.
- Put the butter in the oven with the light turned on. This will take 1-2 hours.
- The fastest way to soften butter is to put cold butter in the microwave for 10 seconds. Turn it to the opposite side and microwave for another 10 seconds. It might be ready at this point, but if it’s not completely soft, add one or two more 5-second stints, turning the butter each time. Don't walk away when using this option or you'll have the prettiest melted butter you ever saw.
- If you prefer to use a mixer, go for it! You won't need the butter to be as soft.
- This recipe calls for cardamom (in addition to the more common cinnamon, ginger, and cloves). Cardamom is a delicious spice that you can find at most larger grocery stores in the spice section. Although cardamom is a member of the ginger family it has its own unique flavor, warm and a little citrusy to me. Cardamom is used in both sweet and savory recipes.
- Use any shape of cookie cutter that you like for this recipe. I have this set of fluted cutters. I really like it because it has a nice selection of sizes, all with the same pretty scalloped shape. I also love that all of the cutters nest inside each other so the set is really easy to store.
- These Belgian Shortbread cookies make a delicious and easy dessert served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of this Best Ever Hot Fudge Sauce or this Ridiculously Easy Butterscotch Sauce.
- I generally roll these cookies ¼-inch thick, but if you like a thicker shortbread cookie, be sure to bake them a little longer.
- I'm terrible at rolling dough to an even surface but I've found a magical rolling pin that allows me to roll perfectly consistent dough, every time. It has adjustable rings so you can roll dough from very thin all the way to ⅜ inch thick.
- The recipe calls for a 30-minute (or longer) chill for the cutout cookies. If I’m in a big hurry, I just pop them into the freezer for 15 minutes.
- I often don't have room in my refrigerator to chill two sheet pans of cookies. So I put all the cutouts on one pan to chill, then separate them once they are chilled and I'm ready to bake.
- Because this dough is a caramel color to start with (due to the brown sugar and spices) it's a little more difficult to tell when the cookies are done. 17 minutes is perfect in my oven but every oven is a little different. The cookies will turn a medium hue of brown when done. Bake them till they're evenly brown but not dark brown.
Thought for the day:
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 8 ounces butter (2 sticks) I used salted
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- granulated sugar, cane sugar or vanilla sugar for sprinkling
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place soft butter in a medium-size mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula until nice and smooth. Add sugar and vanilla. Stir together until well blended. Add the spices and salt and stir until the spices are evenly incorporated.
Add the flour and cornstarch. Stir until flour is incorporated and the dough is shaggy. Generously flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead it a few times until it’s nice and smooth and no longer sticks to the work surface. Form the dough into a ball then divide the ball in half. Form each half into a round ball. Don’t be afraid to use more flour if the dough still seems sticky. Press each half with your hands to form a disc. Set aside one disc, covered with plastic wrap or a small bowl to keep dough from drying out.
Keeping the surface and rolling pin lightly floured, roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut desired shapes and place on prepared pans, spacing 1 inch apart. (If the cutouts seem to be sticking to the work surface, dust the surface with a little more flour.) Re-roll scraps as many times as needed to use up the dough.
Place the pan(s) with the cutouts in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove cookies from refrigerator and bake one sheet at a time for 15-20 minutes or until evenly golden. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.
These cookies are sprinkled with sugar after 10 minutes of baking. Granulated sugar, cane sugar (a little coarser) or Vanilla Sugar all work well.