Make these Strawberry Shortbread Cookies for family, friends or a loved one to show them your appreciation. I guarantee that these will bring a smile to their face! You can also try out my Heart-Shaped Raspberry Handpies, decadent Almond Chocolate Torte (gluten-free) or Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake if you want to impress. All delicious and all highlighting the lure of chocolate on Valentine's Day!
I use my tried and tested shortbread recipe (from my How To Make Shortbread Guide) to create heart-shaped cookies. It's buttery, melts in your mouth and is super easy to pull together and roll out. Once baked, two hearts are sandwiched with strawberry jam and the top is dipped in a fresh strawberry glaze. (I have notes if you don't have fresh strawberries!)
These are fun for all ages but your kids will thoroughly enjoy making these shortbread cookies with you. Don't have a heart-shaped cookie cutter- don't worry- you can cut these out in any shape that you like!! Scroll down and you'll see my round fluted cutters coming into action. Shortbread is super straightforward to make and my instructions below show you images of how you can make them too.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Basic Ingredients. Using only 5 ingredients for the basic shortbread cookie recipe these are a dream to make and bake. With a filling of strawberry jam and a simple glaze- you may just have all the ingredients on hand.
- Incredible flavour. The shortbread is so buttery and flakey, everything a good shortbread should be. Teamed with sweet strawberry jam and the glaze, its a recipe for success.
- Perfect for gift giving. These are perfect for Valentine's Day to show your love and appreciation for that some one special whether they be your lover, kids, friends or extended family. Show them you care with a lottle box of these.
Basic shortbread requires three ingredients, butter, sugar and flour. Any extra ingredients aren’t essential to shortbread but can definitely help with sweetness and balance. Our extra ingredients are vanilla extract and salt. You can find out why below.
- Butter- I recommend unsalted butter. Please don't use margarine as it won't allow the cookies to hold their shape. Ensure the butter is at room temperature so that it can be creamed with the sugar.
- Sugar - Granulated or caster sugar is used. The recipe states granulated as it's more main stream, but either can be used. Personally, I prefer caster as it dissolves that bit quicker into the butter.
- Flour - Plain (all-purpose) flour creates the perfect structure for the cookies to maintain their shape. I suggest weighing the flour out with digital scales. Measuring with cups may add too much flour to the dough and will inturn make them dry.
- Vanilla extract - It adds beautiful rounded sweetness to the dough. You can use vanilla bean paste as an alternative.
- Salt - As we are teaming the shortbread up with strawberry jam and a strawberry glaze, the salts acts to balance out the sweetness.
Strawberry filling and glaze
- Powdered icing sugar (Confectioners' sugar) - This acts as the base of our strawberry glaze. If it looks super lumpy then pass the sugar through a seive to remove the lumps.
- Strawberry puree. I say the word puree lightly. I literally just cored and hulled two large strawberries and mashed them with a fork. Make sure to cut off any white parts at the top of the strawberry. We want all the red parts to help colour the glaze that gorgeous pink. If you don't have fresh strawbs then go with a tablespoon of strawberry jam or a tablespoon or two of freeze-dried strawberry powder.
- Melted Butter. A bit of melted butter gives the glaze a sheen but also allows the glaze to set as the butter cools and hardens. You won't taste the butter - it's all about the powdered sugar and strawberry flavour.
- Milk - Have a tablespoon or two of milk on hand. You may not need it as the strawberry puree might be enough but it depends on the juicy ripeness and size of your strawberries. If you don't have milk then water or lemon juice can be used also.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make the shortbread hearts
1. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. The butter has to be at room temperature for it to be able to cream properly. The butter basically needs to aerate and you'll see this happening by it turning lighter in colour. Beat for a good 2 to 3 minutes and you'll see the sugar crystals gradually disintegrate during this creaming process. (Image 1 & 2)
Add the vanilla extract in and give it a quick mix together. Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
2. Add in flour and beat them together. Sift the flour into the creamed butter and on low speed mix them all together until they just combine. The dough will look quite raggedy but you know it has come together when the dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl and clump in the centre and around the blades. (Image 2 & 3). With your hands bring the dough together in the bowl by squeezing it into one cohesive lump. Then, using your hands, press it and shape it into a rough disc.
3. Roll out the shortbread dough. On a lightly floured surface roll it out with a lightly floured rolling pin. Note: I tend to only flour the surface and the rolling pin and not the top surface of the dough itself. This adds even more flour which can dry out the dough. (Image 5).You can also roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper too if you like.
I roll the dough out to 0.5cm (¼inch) thick- slightly thinner than I would a standard shortbread cookie, namely because two of these are going to be sandwiched together. Trying to bite down on two really thick cookies is not as desirable to me.
TIP: Is the dough too soft?
It's important to note that if the dough is too soft then it will be impossible to cut out the cookies in the next stage. The air temperature, how soft the butter was to start off with, whether the exact amount of flour was measured all come into play with how soft the dough is at this point.
How will you know if it's too soft? You'll find it really tricky to roll out. It will stick to your rolling pin and to your work surface and not roll out evenly. When you try to stamp out the cookies it will stick to the stamps and lose shape when you try to transfer the cutouts to a baking tray.
What to do if the dough is too soft. If it's too soft to roll out then pop it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to firm up a little (but not too much otherwise the dough will crack when you try to roll it out) Living in the UK, I find in the heat of summer I have to refrigerate the dough at this point, but in Autumn/Winter I can roll it straight out. If you live in a hot, humid climate then this tip is particularly important.
Refrigerate. Now chill those cutout cookies on a baking sheet for 30 minutes minimum, or until the cutouts have hardened. By doing this, the butter won't melt out when it hits the hot oven and the cookies will retain their shape. The result will be perfectly shaped, buttery cookies. (Image 9 below)
Note: Make this ahead of time by covering them in plastic wrap and then refrigerating them overnight (or even a couple of days!). You can then pop them in the oven as and when you want.
TIP: Chill the dough
It's so important to chill the dough after cutting out the cookie shapes. The butter up until this point has been fairly soft. Refrigerating it allows the better to re-solidify, but also the flour to hydrate and the gluten to relax. Make sure to do this step even if you had to refrigerate the dough before rolling.
5. Bake. The cookies are baked until they're just turning golden on the edges. (Image 10)
Aside from the slightly golden edges, to tell that the shortbread is cooked through, lift one up and look at the bottom. If the cookie still looks wet underneath then they are underdone. Pop them back in for another minute or two to bake right through.
There are quite a few different factors that will affect how long you bake your cookies and the outcome. Here are points to look out for:
Different oven temps: Your oven can run at a different temperature to mine and with such a short bake time overall, just a couple of degrees will change the length of bake time.
Measurements: Were the ingredients measured out properly. Too much flour will dry out the cookie dough and then bake time may need to be reduced.
The thickness of dough: The thinner you roll out the dough- the crispier they will be.
Bake time: Use the recommended time in the recipe but my biggest tip is to go by sight. Buttery and 'short', or crisp. I like my shortbread soft and buttery so bake them the minimum time stated. But if you'd prefer yours on the crisper side then leave them in the oven for a couple of minutes longer.
Note: If you find the cookies have bubbled up in the oven whilst baking, then the minute you pull them out of the oven, use the base of a measuring cup to gently smooth out the surface. This has to be done when the cookies are piping hot. Just don't press too hard. Use the gentlest of touch to smooth out the surface.
Strawberry glaze and filling
1. Mix glaze ingredients together. The strawberry glaze is a beautiful addition to the shortbread cookies. But totally optional! You could simply dust the top of the cookies with icing sugar if you fancied it. Pop the icing sugar, pureed strawberries and butter into a bowl and stir until smooth and lump-free. It's a thick glaze but you can pop it in the microwave for a maximum of ten seconds to loosen it up a bit if need be. Fresh strawberries can have varying degrees of juiciness depending on their variety and how rip they are. If the glaze still needs loosening, then add in a bit of the milk (or lemon juice or water) or more pureed strawberries if you have any, until you have the perfect consistency. (Image 11 & 12)
2. Dip cookies into glaze. Divide the hearts into two so that you have the sandwich cookie 'tops' and the 'bases'. Dip the top of each 'top' shortbread heart into the strawberry glaze and very carefully lift it out (Image 13). Let any excess glaze drip back into the bowl and then place on a tray or wire rack for the icing to set. It makes it easier to assemble the 'base' and 'top' if the icing is set. But by all means, carry on and hold the cookie by the sides if you don't want to wait. (Image 14). Note: if you use strawberry jam or freeze-dried strawberry powder instead of the puree, then just mix in with the other ingredients and adjust the consistency if needed.
3. Fill strawberry shortbread cookies with jam. It's time to add the jam onto the 'bases'. Flip the remaining shortbread cookies onto their backs so that the underside is showing up. Spoon or pipe (I pipe the jam as I find it quicker and less messy), strawberry jam onto the 'base' heart (Image 15). Then place the iced 'top' and gently press the two together (Image 16).
You can enjoy them straight away but the two cookies will slide around when trying to bite down on them. I find it best to let the cookies sit out at room temp for an hour or so for the glaze to fully harden and the jam to set in place. If you do this you can then package up the cookies without fear of them separating and ruining the glaze on top.
Shortbread is one of the most versatile bases for add-ins or toppings of any cookie out there. It's so damn versatile!!
- Raspberry or Blackberry Shortbread Biscuits: Swap out the strawberry jam and puree for raspberry or blackberry jam and puree. Two beautiful flavours that will work equally well with the shortbread.
- Strawberry and Chocolate Shortbread Cookies: Add a ½ cup of chocolate chips to the dough, glaze with a strawberry glaze and fill with a teaspoonful of Nutella chocolate spread.
- Chocolate Shortbread Cookies: Git rid of the fruit altogether if it doesn;t float your boat and dip the cookie tops in melted milk or dark chocolate. Fill the sandwich cookies with a homemade ganache or with chocolate spread. Another Valentine's Day favourite!
- Strawberry Shortcake Cookies: Dollop a small amount of jam into the centre of the cookie 'base' and pipe sweetened whipped cream (Creme Chantilly) around the outside edge of the heart. Top with another shortbread cookie and dust with icing sugar (omit the glaze). You have yourself your very own strawberry shortcake!
- Re-roll the dough. Once you've cut out the first round of cookies, make sure to bring the dough back together again with your hands, re-shape it then re-roll and cut out more cookies. I do this twice to get the maximum number of cookies from the dough.
- Flour your cookie cutters. This stops the dough from sticking to them and avoids you having to peel the dough from the cutter, ruining the cookie shape.
- Refrigerate the cookie dough. Unless you what a tray of odd-shaped cookies that have spread all over the place, the dough needs to be chilled.
- Keep an eye on the bake time. Everyone's oven runs at a slightly different temperature. With such a short bake time, a minute or two either way will make a difference.
Frequently asked questions
It's all in the quality of the ingredients. With such a short ingredients list, the quality makes a big difference. The perfect shortbread cookie should be crumbly, but not dry, buttery, butter not greasy and sweet but not sickly.
If the cookies are too crumbly then either too much flour was added initially (make sure to weigh out the flour using a digital scale) or the cookies were baked for too long.
Most likely it's because the dough has been overworked which has activated the gluten too much leading to hard, tough cookies. In my recipe, the mixer really does all the leg work and you'll only need to squeeze it a couple of times to bring the dough together. There should be no kneading necessary.
Absolutely not. In the image below you can see I made these Strawberry Shortbread Cookies using a fluted round cookie-cutter. Using a cutter in this shape means that you can bake and eat these all year long, not just around Valentine's Day!
How to store and freeze
To store: Strawberry Shortbread Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.
To freeze: Undecorated shortbread can be stored in a freezer-safe container layered between parchment paper and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature. Fill and decorate according to the recipe.
Equipment you’ll need
- Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachement: The quickest and easiest way to make the dough. Electric hand-held beaters will were perfectly well also.
- Rolling Pin: To roll the dough and be able to create those cookie shapes.
- Heart Shaped Cookie Cutters: Mine measure 5½cm wide x 6cm high (2¼ x 2½ inches). But you can use the closest size that you have. A larger cutter will yield less sandwich cookies though.
- Baking sheet: Depending on how large the cookies are, you may need one or two sheets.
More Shortbread recipes that you may enjoy.
I do hope that you love these Strawberry Shortbread Cookies. I’m going to pop one in each of my girl's lunch boxes as a surprise on Valentine’s Day. They just love V.Day, they definitely get into it more so than Anthony and I. It’s very sweet. So these little treats are perfect to show our love for them ... of course, Anthony will enjoy them too!! Happy baking friends!
If you tried these Valentine's Day Strawberry Shortbread Cookies or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Heart-Shaped Strawberry Shortbread Cookies Recipe
- Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or handheld electric beaters)
- Heart Shaped Cutters 5½cm wide x 6cm high (2¼ x 2½ inches)
- Baking Tray
- 125 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 60 g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 180 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
Strawberry Filling and Glaze
- 110 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 2 tablespoon strawberry puree, 2 large strawberries hulled and mashed with a fork
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
- 30 ml milk
- 170 g strawberry jam
Make basic shortbread
- Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Line one or two baking trays with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and cream for about 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed until pale and light. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl half way through. Add in the vanilla extract and mix again.
- Add in flour beat them together. Sift in the flour and add the salt then mix on low speed until they are combined and the dough starts to come together. The dough will look quite raggedy but you’ll know it’ ready when it starts to clean the sides of the bowl and clumps in the middle.With your hands, squeeze the shortbread dough together into a mass. Shape it into a rough disc.
- Roll out the shortbread dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to a ½ cm (¼ inch) thick. Note: if the dough is too soft at this point then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or longer until it firms up slightly and makes it easier to roll out. Keep an eye on it as if the dough is too hard, it will crack when you try to roll it out.
- Cut out cookie shapes and chill. Once the dough is rolled out, use a cookie cutter (I used a heart-shaped one) to stamp out the cookies. Lay the cut outs onto the prepared baking tray. Bring together any scraps, re-roll and stamp out more cookies. And then, do it again if needs be. Just be aware that every time you re-form the dough, it will pull in the flour from the benchtop and hence may dry out the dough. Add a couple of drops of water to the dough if this happens. Try not to overwork the dough by kneading it. Just press it gently together each time.Now refrigerate the stamped cookies for 30 minutes minimum or until the cutouts have hardened. This means the butter has resolidified and will give you the best possible chance of the cookies retaining their shape in the oven.
- Bake. Preheat the oven to 170°C (335°F) whilst the cutouts are chilling. Remove the cookies from the fridge, then bake for 10-12 mins or until just golden around the edges. Cool on the tray for ten minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make glaze and assemble cookies
- Mix glaze ingredients together. Place the powdered icing sugar, pureed strawberries and melted butter into a bowl and stir until smooth and lump-free. It's a thick glaze but you can pop it in the microwave for a maximum of ten seconds to loosen it up a bit if need be. Fresh strawberries can have varying degrees of juiciness depending on their variety and how ripe they are. If the glaze still needs loosening, then add in a bit of the milk (or lemon juice or water) at a time until you have the perfect consistency.
- Dip cookies into glaze. Divide the hearts into two so that you have equal number ‘tops’ and equal number ‘bases’ to sandwich together later on. Dip the ‘top’ hearts into the glaze letting any excess drip off. Place on a wire rack or back on the baking tray for icing to set.
- Fill strawberry shortbread cookies with jam. Spoon or pipe a teaspoon worth of strawberry jam onto the underside of the shortbread ‘bases’. Cover the jam with the glazed top heart and gently squeeze together. Eat immediately or let sit at room temperature for the jam and glaze to fully set in place.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.