Vanilla-Saffron Shortbread

Posted by

Why is it when we get stressed, or sad, or overwhelmed, we drop the very things that keep us centered and balanced and happy? Even as a psychologist, I cannot answer that one. And even as a food blogger, I cannot say why, if sharing with the blogosphere makes me so happy, I haven’t done it in days, despite my time opening up after the 24 x 24 La Primavera party. If and when I discover an answer, I’ll be sure to share ;). In the meantime, I am simply relishing in the fact, that something clearly has snapped (in a good way!) because here I am blogging, sharing, and smiling while doing so. It may have been the super supportive conversations I had with friends last night, or the message I received just before going to bed from a friend who had no idea what space I was in. The text was long, but one line sticks out. She wrote, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Her message, so timely, has motivated me to dance, and by dance, I mean blog again!

Before getting to the first of many recipes to come from the La Primavera party, I wanted to thank Irena at My Wandering Spoon and Manu at Manu’s Menu for the lovely blogger awards they bestowed onto me. You ladies make me smile and I LOVE your blogs! I also wanted to update folks on the Online Bake Sale for Japan that I blasted on Como Water, facebook, and twitter last week. You’ll be happy to know that we raised over $8000 for Second Harvest Japan–THREE TIMES the amount we set out to raise. Collectively, we can make change, and efforts like this are reminders of the life force that lives in us when we join together.

And now…. onto the shortbread… For the party, I really wanted something light for the dessert, which was preceded by a heck of a lot of savory food. So, I went with shortbread. One, it can easily be made vegan, by using Earth Balance, rather than butter. Two, shortbread is crazy simple to make. Three, you can easily fancy shortbread up by adding melted chocolate. Four, shortbread takes to different flavors really well, so you can be super creative. This recipe is for the vanilla-saffron shortbread. That night, I also made orange-vanilla shortbread (using 1 1/2 teaspoons each orange and vanilla extracts), almond-lemon shortbread (using 1 1/2 teaspoons each almond and lemon extracts), and orange-Earl Grey shortbread (using 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract, along with the tea leaves from the inside of one Earl Grey tea bag). They were hits and I’m already thinking of other flavor combinations to make in the future. I served the shortbread with fresh strawberries and amaretto cream (soy whip whipped with almond extract). This ended up being the perfect light dessert following our decadent meal.

Vanilla-Saffron Shortbread (Printable Recipe)


1 cup Earth Balance (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon saffron (divided)

sugar for sprinkling

chocolate for drizzling (optional)


*Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.ย Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron. Sift in flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir until fully combined.

*Press dough into a 9 1/2 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar (~ 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon). Bake for approximately 20 minutes or just until shortbread turns light golden brown. Cut shortbread into slices while warm. Remove bottom of tart pan and let cool completely. As an optional step, warm chocolate and drizzle/dip shortbread in chocolate of choice. If dipping/drizzling with chocolate, sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon of saffron onto the shortbread while the chocolate is warm (if not using chocolate, add all of the saffron to the batter before baking).

Written by

Tiffany M. Griffin is the woman behind Como Water, Washington DCโ€™s premiere veg-centric cuisine consulting company. Through cooking classes, demonstrations, catering, and consultations, Como Water gives people the opportunity to learn how to prepare veg-centric cuisine that boasts maximum flavor, with minimal effort. Tiffany is quickly becoming a go-to expert on the future of veg-centric cuisine, and is a regular contributor to Como Water, the blog, as well as to vegetarian and vegan sites across the Internet. For over a decade, this self-taught, entrepreneurial expert has developed a set of tried and true techniques for making simple, delicious, and sometimes decadent veg-centric dishes. Featured on the Steve Harvey Show and other leading media outlets, Tiffany was born and raised in Springfield, MA. She then earned Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Communications from Boston College and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. She now resides in Washington DC, where she has worked in the US Senate and at a federal agency on issues around health, food, nutrition, and international food aid/development, and of course, as the owner of Como Water. Tiffany gets culinary inspiration from the food she grew up eating, and from her travels throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is dedicated to sharing her wealth of knowledge on veg-centric cuisine with others and to help others live by her mantraโ€”love life, live long, and eat veg-centric cuisine!


  1. This sound incredible, and I love that you used saffron in it. I’ve never cooked or baked with saffron before, but would love to try it. I’m envisioning a lemon-saffron rice pudding…mmm.

    • That sounds amazing!

  2. Looks buttery and yummy, love the topping you’ve used….

  3. This look fantastic and sounds delicious!!! I love how you made it!!!

  4. I love it: learn how to dance in the rain. Must remember that one when feeling a bit under the weather! THAT was not meant, by the way, it just came out ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Funny, we had saffron last night in a main dish and it’s been a while. I love saffron and should use it more often. Being a Scot, shortbread is on my list but adding vanilla and saffron like you did here? Totally amazing!

  5. Awesome job on the bake sale! That is quite a sum that was raised! And lovely shortbread to celebrate sush a job well done ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Really nice Tiffany as you always do!.
    I wished to give an award to you and your nice blog.
    Te lo mereces


    • Gracias Begona!

  7. Hi Tiffany! Thank you for coming to my site. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love short bread and vanilla flavor so this caught my attention. But is saffron a common ingredient for baking sweets? It was actually first time for me and made me VERY interested! I’m not sure it’s a unique thing or common (since I don’t bake) but I think it’s lovely idea. Looking forward to your new recipes on your facebook (I am also on a facebook if you are interested). Really nice to meet you!

    • Nope… it is not common to add saffron to sweets (at least in the US, it’s not. In South Asia, it’s definitely more common…). I think it complements sweets really well though, so I put it in cookies, pancakes, lots of things!

  8. This looks amazing and sounds delicious! Saffron is such an interesting addition!

  9. What beautiful shortbread!! Amazing!

  10. A blog is a weird business. I love mine dearly, but like any loved one, I sometimes need a break from it. I am just glad to see you get back on the horse with such a delicious recipe. Shortbread is my weakness!

  11. How yummy!!!!! I have never been brave enough to cook with saffron, but the look and sound of these little guys, I may just have to suck it up and try it. Thanks

  12. This sounds delicious, never tried saffron in a sweet thing! I am going vegan and gluten free for a month so will be checking back on some of your recipes!!

    • Woah! I can’t wait to read about how your month goes!

  13. How unique to put saffron in. Love it!

  14. Glad your back to blogging.! ๐Ÿ™‚ Sometimes it is nice to step away from things when you are stressed. It does help to put things back into perspective and reminds you of the things you love. (I think so anyway :o)
    I really like this way. Who would have thought saffron would pair so well with shortbread. So clever (and beautiful!)

  15. MMM MMM Gimme some of that shortbread!!!

  16. I love shortbread and yours looks wonderful. I am so excited about the money raised through the Online Bake Sale 4 Japan. Great job!

  17. Ohmigosh! This shortbread looks fantastic. And I absolutely love that you added saffron. That’s pretty darn cool! Sorry you’ve been in a funk lately, glad to see you’re on the up and up tho ๐Ÿ™‚ Especially when it means recipes like this.

    Thanks for sharing! And get your behind over to Zum Stammtisch!

    • I’ll be in the city later this month, so I definitely will!

  18. I enjoy saffron, but don’t think I’ve ever had it in a cookie. Your creation is beautiful and very unique :o)

  19. Wow! what a great recipe! great combination of flavors love it! thanks for sharing! =]

  20. short bread looks wonderful with the saffron flavour gives lovely colour

  21. I love the addition of saffron to the shortbread (and I really like your other flavored shortbread ideas)! You are welcome for the awards… they are all well deserved Tiffany and I am glad they helped to cheer you up and make you smile (and obviously come bak to blogging as we have MISSED you!)! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Oops, I meant come “back”… hehehe

  23. Glad the fog has lifted. Your shortbread sounds delicious and adding saffron takes it waaay over the top. You have one more award to pick up at my blog.

  24. This sounds so delicious. I’ve never had saffron in a sweet dish, just savory, but I’ll try anything once.

  25. I never thought to add saffron to shortbread. What a fabulous idea!!!! They look amazing!

  26. I love saffron when used in sweet applications! It is genious to put it in a shortbread, it gives such beautiful color and subtle flavor! Your shortbread is beautiful! Love the white chocolate drizzzle!

  27. saffron on shortbread sound fantastic! Looks so yummy .. buttery ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. I love it! It looks like exactly what I need with a cup of green tea after a long and tiring day ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Absolutely love the idea of saffron in combination with vanilla – what a wonderful flavor for a shortbread, an excellent treat!

  30. YUM! I’m a terrible bread-maker… can you just send me a loaf?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  31. Shortbread is my biscuit/cookie of choice. Love the addition of saffron and the drizzle of chocolate, which in my case, would not be optional. Congrats on the fantastic result of the bake sale. What a result!

  32. Wow, you’ve been busy! Well done with the fundraising, and glad to hear you’re back to feeling happy again. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the idea of putting saffron in a sweet pastry – such a delicate flavour and so pretty too.

  33. Just a little saffron takes a recipe from delicious to out-of-this-world.

  34. That looks amazing Tiffany! I would want to eat 14 of those lovely little pieces! I love your addition of the Saffron, how unique and delicious!

  35. This looks awesome and also I know exactly what you mean about stepping away from the things we love the most when we get stressed or sad. I’ve done that these past couple of weeks and I’m just now getting back into blogging and reading and yoga and the things I love…all things which probably would have kept me happier if I hadn’t stopped doing them in the first place. We live and learn, right? And eat cookies.

    • I love it! Yes… live, learn, and eat! ๐Ÿ˜€

  36. AHH! I want to make this, like now! love the flavor combinations.
    looks great

  37. This sounds fantastic! I like the saffron in there.

  38. That looks delicious. Loved the Saffron idea.

  39. Your shortbread not only sound but look terrific…what a great combination of flavors…would love to have it with a cup of tea…have a great week ahead ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. I love the idea of saffron vanilla shortbread. I’ve never done saffron in s dessert before. I just got a bunch of it so I’ll have to try this!

  41. Thanks for sharing, I love shortbread and I’m always looking for new ways to make it!

  42. Oh wow I have never tried pair up vanilla and saffron! This is such a great idea ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. Oh wow – I just love the flavors in this shortbread. I really enjoy recipes that offer a new twist on an old classic, and this has just moved to the top of my list. Thanks for sharing!!

  44. Oh my gosh, fantabulous!!! You know I love anything that has the word “shortbread” in the title…. mmm mmmm good!

  45. That is a beautiful variety of shortbread. I haven’t seen it with saffron before. I bet it was delicious.

  46. Hi Tiffany: I do luv that quote you shared “Life isnโ€™t about waiting for the storm…” I definitely need to frame that one. I hope you’re feeling better.

    I like that you used saffron in this shortbread. Isn’t shortbread such a perfect dessert? Now I’m craving shortbread – you’ve inspired me to make some this week for sure! =)

  47. Thanks for all of the feedback everyone!

  48. Glad your spirits are up…your friend is wise ๐Ÿ™‚ And congratulations both on the awards as well as the funds raised for Japan…Wow!

  49. What terrific shortbread…I love the addition of saffron…what a great idea!

  50. Thanks for participating in April’s YBR ๐Ÿ™‚ Your shortbreads would help snap me out of any stress or depression. Thanks for sharing.

  51. This looks delicious– I have some saffron I’ve been trying to use and this looks like a great recipe to try it with! Thanks for sharing!

  52. I had to look up Earth Balance – I’ve never seen it in Australia, but I’d really like to make this shortbread recipe. It sounds delicious.