At first sight, the star ingredient in these Glazed Hibiscus Shortbread Cookies might conjure up visions of the Demogorgon that haunts the town of Hawkins in the 80's nostalgia inspired Netflix series, Stranger Things. The dried hibiscus flowers may look strange with their slightly unsettling, tentacle-like extremities, but don't let the creepy crawlies get the best of you because they are a delightful treat with a tangy zip and a kiss of floral sweetness. More tart cherry with flowery undertones than the deep, dark scarlet lit world of the parallel Upside Down universe where they could easily originate from.
I've long been a fan of the tart and refreshing Mexican Agua Fresca, Jamaica, also known as Hibiscus Tea. Here is a refreshing Jamaica Punch recipe from my pal Kate of the blog Hola Jalapeño. The bright and zippy flavor refreshes like no other and is especially welcome alongside a spicy Mexican dish. When I spotted the dried hibiscus flowers in the fruit and nut section at my local Trader Joe's last summer, I bought 2 bags immediately, no questions asked. I've been picking up a bag nearly every visit since and we endearingly refer to them as Demogorgons around here. I love adding the "Deomogorgons" to cheeseboards or snacking on them like candy when I need a little sweet rush. And while it can be a bit of a challenge to convince yourself that you are actually biting into a hibiscus flower and not some super-organism that crawled in from the Upside Down, the immensely tart sweetness will immediately win you over.
These Glazed Hibiscus Shortbread Cookies perfectly showcase the best qualities of the dried hibiscus flowers with a simple shortbread cookie base that allows the brightness of the hibiscus color and flavor to shine through. When developing this recipe for Glazed Hibiscus Shortbread Cookies, I slayed those Demogorgons into little cheery bits of magenta magic and sprinkled them into the easy butter shortbread cookie dough. The flavor combo of the simple buttery shortbread cookies with the tart and tangy dried hibiscus bits, plus a little punch of cinnamon combine into an other-worldly tasting experience and an all-star texture combo. The strange thing is, I just made one small ingredient change to a basic cookie recipe and I feel like I've opened the door to a whole new, untapped cookie world.
These Glazed Hibiscus Shortbread Cookies are one of the simplest cookie recipes I've ever made but quickly climbed up to the top as one of my favorite cookie recipes ever! Don't worry Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, you'll always be an Eleven in my book. I love these Glazed Hibiscus Shortbread Cookies as is, but I wanted to take them one step further and make shortbread cookies with icing. Not to worry, that extra step could not be easier, you literally just brew a bit of bright and beautiful Hibiscus Tea and whisk it together with some powdered sugar, for a brightly sweet, vibrant hibiscus glaze that would even stop a Demogorgon in it's tracks. Isn't is a beautiful thing?
You're probably thinking, I really want to make these Glazed Hibiscus Shortbread Cookies but where on earth do I find dried hibiscus flowers and hibiscus tea? The dried hibiscus flower been hanging out at Trader Joes in the dried fruits and nuts section for a while now on you can find all kinds of hibiscus tea on Amazon. If you aren't able to get your hands on dried hibiscus flowers, you can absolutely sub in tart dried cherries or dried cranberries for the chewy dried fruit bits in the shortbread cookie dough.
If you've never tasted hibiscus or used it in baking, don't be scared, there are much stranger things out there. It's time to transport yourself into this delicious dimension and bake up a batch of these Glazed Hibiscus Shortbread Cookies.