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into the tropics

Recipe: macadamia shortbread cookies

It’s almost midnight and I’m sitting here in my skivvies because I’ve packed the pants I was wearing just ten minutes ago. It’s always like this the night before travel. Clean the house, pack the gear, check the weather forecast, run around looking for summer clothes that haven’t seen the light of day since… last summer. It’s definitely not Summer, but this barely even qualifies as Spring down in Boulder.


the tulips are up, but spring is late

so many varieties abound on the pearl street pedestrian mall

hard to pick a favorite



We rarely go to Boulder on the weekends if we can help it. Just nicer to be in the mountains since we usually work in town during the week. However I had a gig to shoot: Downtown Boulder’s Taste of Pearl on Sunday. This event teams local restaurants, local wineries (or meaderies), and local shops together for a tasting tour along beautiful Pearl Street. It sold out pretty quickly which meant I had to duck and dodge many a participant while trying to get my shots. Most of the venues were packed!

art galleries hosted

delectable tastes from the black cat bistro

executive chef of the flagstaff house, mark monette

boulder creek winery

chicken liver pâté from mateo

bobby stuckey (frasca) slices la quercia prosciutto



Although Boulder is beginning to green, the trees are still behind schedule and have yet to really leaf out. I suspect when I return home, the place will have exploded with color. It’s a good time of year. While Colorado tries to shake winter like a bad ex-boyfriend, we are going to be plunged into the perpetual summer of the tropics. I have mixed feelings about this because I’m really really really not a fan of hot weather, but I sure do love a lilikoi shave ice (ice shave for the locals). To get my mindset out of the Colorado Rockies and onto the Big Island, I thought it was fitting to try a Hawai’ian themed recipe.

macadamia nuts

coarsely chopped



People love macadamia nuts. Whenever someone returns from Hawai’i they always bring back Kona coffee and mac nuts. Just don’t feed them to your pups – they’re toxic for dogs. I found this recipe which is a lovely combination of mac nuts and my favorite cookie to bake at elevation: shortbread. See, shortbread doesn’t have leavening issues which makes it ideal for me to bake in the mountains.

adding flour to butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla

mix in the mac nuts



The dough is drier than other shortbreads I’ve made which lends to that nice sandy crumb. Rather than wrangling this into a log and slicing rounds, I opted for the ziploc bag trick from the espresso chocolate chip shortbread cookies. I prefer quadrilateral shortbreads to circular shortbreads. That’s just personal preference.

roll out to an even thickness

after chilling the dough, slice into rectangles or squares



Because this dough is on the dry side, it may crumble when you handle it. Gently press broken pieces back together. It’s like a puzzle that makes your hands greasy. I found when I set the dough on the baking sheet that if I tried to move it over, it stuck to the pan a tad, so be decisive in how you arrange them.

set on baking sheet about an inch apart

cooling on the rack



I tasted one of the cookies out of the oven. Great texture for a shortbread and not too sweet. The nuts add that extra bit of crunchiness and nuttiness (nutty as in nuts, not insanity). You *could* stop here, but wait! We weren’t done with them. Not by a long shot.

dip in tempered chocolate

sprinkle chopped mac nuts on the wet chocolate



Now, this is where we go a little wild… Dip the shortbreads in chocolate (I tempered mine but you can also do the shortening-chocolate glaze combo) and sprinkle more macadamia nuts on the chocolate before it sets. These cookies are dangerous. They’re small and unassuming, but one shortbread will lay you low.

this here is a megaton shortbread bomb

get tropical and pair it with some lilikoi (passion fruit) ice cream



I had to get them out of the house, so I mailed them to my mom and some good friends. While I counted out how many cookies I had, Jeremy sidled up next to me and asked if I was giving ALL of them away. He has developed quite a fondness for these shortbreads, so I nixed one of the packages and left some for Jeremy. It’s rare that he actually requests that I save sweet treats for him, so how could I possibly say no? The chocolate-dipped version is too sweet and too chocolaty for me, but the naked shortbread is fantastic on its own. I’m ready for the tropics now.

check your mailboxes – you know who you are



Macadamia Shortbread Cookies
[print recipe]
from True Aloha

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (95g) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour (250g)
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
8 oz. dark chocolate
1/4 cup shortening (only if you don’t temper the chocolate)
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped

Cream the butter until smooth and beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. When the butter and sugar are combined, slowly add flour and beat until incorporated. Mix in the 1 cup of coarsely chopped macadamia nuts. Roll the dough into a log and cover with plastic wrap OR stuff dough into a gallon-sized ziploc bag and roll out to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness with a rolling pin. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Heat oven to 300°F and remove dough from refrigerator. Slice the log into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. If using the ziploc bag method, slice the dough into squares or rectangles (about 1 or 1.5 inches by 2 inches – whatever you like). [Note to self: 1x2.5-inches] Place the slices on an ungreased baking sheet an inch apart and bake for 20 minutes or until the cookies turn golden around the edges. Remove from oven, remove from baking sheet to cooling rack. While cookies are cooling you can melt the chocolate with the shortening and dip the cookies into the melted chocolate and then into the finely chopped macadamia nuts. Or if you’re a glutton for punishment, temper the chocolate (I find using a pound of chocolate helps to keep it more stable when tempering), and dip the cookies in tempered chocolate. Set cookies on parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle with finely chopped macadamia nuts and let cool. Makes about 30 cookies.

28 nibbles at “into the tropics”

  1. Nate @ House of Annie says:

    Awesome shortbread cookie recipe! I was thinking you could try sprinkling some Hawaiian sea salt on the chocolate.

    Hope you get to stop over in Honolulu. We found some good deals on mac nuts at the Wal*Mart on Keeaumoku in Honolulu.

    And of course, for the best shave ice in Hawaii, you gotta go to Waiola Shave Ice

    http://www.houseofannie.com/waiola-shave-ice-best-in-hawaii/

    I like my lilikoi (passion) paired with li hing and melona flavors.

    Enjoy!

  2. Ronine says:

    Thanks heaps for the trick on how to get rectangular shortbreads!!

  3. Gwenevere says:

    But I’m not going to Hawaii…guess I’ll just have to pull out the photo albums and remember.

  4. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) says:

    Is it bad that I want to eat the raw dough of those cookies right off the cookie sheet? :)

    They look SO PERFECT on it they are just begging for a nibble! haha!

    And the chocolate dippy action..nice!

  5. Kristin says:

    I had given up on finding a Mother’s Day present for my mom this year, as she’s packing house & moving across the country, but she absolutely loves both shortbread and macadamia nuts! Lucky for me she’s house hunting this week, so I have some more time to procure nuts, bake & ship! Thanks Jen!

    The tulips are so gorgeous. I’d stopped planting them since they don’t last very many years, but I’m tempted to put some in this fall.

  6. kathy says:

    Have a great time!

  7. thedelishdishblog says:

    I just got back from the Big Island and am so grateful for this recipe so that I can fool myself into thinking I’m still in paradise (and not back & stuck in jury duty–what luck I have!)!! Have a wonderful time!! If you get a chance try to eat at Merriman’s—one of my favorite dining experiences on that island.

  8. Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul says:

    These look delicious! Macadamia nuts are my favorite, and I’m also crazy about chocolate. I’m going to try and veganize them; when I get around to it I’ll let you know how they turn out : ) Thanks for sharing, have fun in Hawaii!

  9. Kathy - Panini Happy says:

    Well, shoot, now you’ve got me longing for the Big Island too! :-)

  10. Linda says:

    Guess what I have in my freezer!!! Macs!!!! My basic Scottish shortbread recipe lets me press it into a jelly roll pan then slice rectangles after I bake. Do you think that technique would work for this recipe? Would I have to chill the dough in the pan before baking? I may do some experimenting.

  11. Barbara says:

    Jen did you know macadamia nuts are anative plant of Queensland. I was going to buy choc dipped macadamias to send to Maria’s family in Montreal. But now I think I’ll a batch of these.

  12. Sally - My Custard Pie says:

    How wonderful to receive a little package of these through the mail. Lovely tulip pics.

  13. Joy says:

    That looks wonderful.

  14. Jessica says:

    Wow! Shorbread with macadamia nuts? Sounds amazing!
    P.S. Hope you have fun on your trip! If you have room for a stow-away let me know! ;-)

  15. Ananda Rajashekar says:

    your pictures makes emotional most of the, i no idea why, I think they speak millions so very poetic!

  16. Margie says:

    Wow, I learned a new trick, today…..thanks for sharing the process of stuffing into a gallon ziploc bag. Shortbread are one of my favorite cookies, but adding mac nuts? OVER THE TOP!

    Enjoy a wonderful trip; you are leaving all of us green with envy. ;)

  17. Diana says:

    No ways! You’re heading to my home. What part of Hawaii? I miss it so much, hope to go back next year.

  18. Caitlin says:

    I’ve never gained a liking for macadamia nuts, but maybe these need to be in the next package to my sister – her favorite Christmas sweet is chocolate covered mac nuts. Have fun in Hawaii!

  19. Drumstick Recipes says:

    Wow! This chocolate cookies look great. Will definitely try it out for the coming party this weekend. Thanks!

  20. Alyson says:

    DROOL. I love these! I buy the chocolate and caramel dunked shortbread every time I’m near Big Island Candies. The thought of being able to make these at home… gah. I’m in trouble!

  21. Mari says:

    *thud* (That sound was me falling on the floor after seeing your delicious post.) I must make these soon.
    Needless to say . . . drool-worthy photos, as always.

  22. jenyu says:

    Nate – only the big island this trip!

    Kristin – I hope she enjoyed them :)

    thedelishdishblog – thanks for the rec. It was recommended by several others – what a fantastic restaurant.

    Linda – I’m guessing if you slice them after baking they will be pretty brittle and not cut cleanly.

    Barbara – the mac nuts I used for this recipe actually come from Australia. I know, I should be sourcing more local, right?

    Jessica – funny, I had so many offers for stowaways ;)

    Diana – the big island.

  23. Marna says:

    Thanks for the recipe – I made these last weekend and they were a BIG hit at work and with family – especially the Hawai’i lovers!

  24. Beth says:

    These were great! I had to increase the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees instead of 300 like you had in your recipe. After 20 minutes, mine weren’t done. Thanks for the recipe! My mother in law will love them as her Mother’s Day gift. Perfect!

  25. sharilyn says:

    You are my new hero. I love your website… I could spend all day here.

  26. National Food Day: Macadamia Nuts! (Toffee and Macadamia Shortbread) « Bake, Run, Live says:

    [...] Toffee and Macadamia Shortbread Recipe adapted from Use Real Butter [...]

  27. Rebecca says:

    Made these as a Valentine’s day treat for my sweets (heart shaped, of course) and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying your blog and perusing your recipes. What’s not to love! Glad to have found this. Skiing, photography, food, family, and culture? (oh, and that lab’s beautiful eyes!) I’ll be back!

  28. Brooke says:

    Used this recipe as a crust for a haupia sweet potato pie, and it was DELICIOUSLY ONO. Will definitely try to make the cookies! Thanks for sharing :)

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