The Little Epicurean

Jun 02 2015

Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies with Hibiscus Glaze

Black Sesame Shortbread with hibiscus glaze | the little epicurean

I normally associate shortbread cookies with afternoon tea. I think of ladies in pastel colored clothes daintily sipping on tea with their pinkies in the air. These black sesame shortbread cookies with hibiscus glaze would definitely not be invited to that kind of event. These are the rebellious punk shortbread cookies that belong to a break-all-the-rules kind of tea party. Perhaps like an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter’s tea party!

(Do afternoon tea parties like that exist in real life? If you know of one, please send over the info!)

Black Sesame Shortbread with hibiscus glaze | the little epicurean

If you’ve never had black sesame, it tastes really nutty. It’s almost like a peanut butter kind of nutty, but toastier in flavor. I love it! Black sesame is popular in Asian desserts. Some of my favs include: black sesame ice cream, black sesame cupcakes, black sesame sweet rice dumplings (I can go on and on!).

Black sesame flour (or powder) is available at Asian markets. It is usually stocked in the same section with the rice flours and tapioca starches or alongside all the teas and powdered drink mixes.  It’s also readily accessible online.

Black sesame is normally paired with red bean or matcha (green tea). But rather than do the expected, I wanted to try something really different. Black sesame with hibiscus is a pairing I’ve never heard of. I was skeptical at first, but the pair actually plays surprisingly well together. The nutty black sesame is balanced with the slightly tart hibiscus glaze. The exciting and unusual flavor combo leaves you wanting more and more.

Black Sesame Shortbread with hibiscus glaze | the little epicurean

I’m a big fan of the colorful cakes and desserts of Katherine Sabbath. Her work is full of bright pinks, vibrant turquoises and luscious lavenders. These black sesame shortbread cookies were inspired by her Instagram feed.

And if it wasn’t pretty obvious from the color scheme of my blog, I really really really love pink. Any shade of pink puts me in a good mood and makes me happy.

There are no artificial colors in this cookie. It’s ALL NATURAL! Once baked, the black sesame shortbread turns an even gray color. The electric pink glaze takes it’s tones from the super red color of the dried hibiscus flower.

Black Sesame Shortbread with hibiscus glaze | the little epicurean

At first, I tried to make these cookies look prim and proper. Dip one side of the cookie in the hibiscus glaze and then sprinkle a little black sesame on top. That got boring really fast.

Black Sesame Shortbread with hibiscus glaze | the little epicurean

It’s much more fun and exciting splattering and drizzling the cookies in a sort of Jackson Pollock kind of matter. It’s also quite stress relieving and relaxing to go a bit wild sometimes.

Print Recipe

Black Sesame Shortbread with Hibiscus Glaze

Yield: about 5 dozen cookies


Black Sesame Shortbread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup black sesame flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 large egg yolks

Hibiscus Glaze:

  • 1 Tbsp dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted


  1. Whisk together flour, black sesame flour, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and coconut oil. Once smooth, add sugar and powdered sugar. Add dry mixture and mix on slow speed. Add egg yolks one at a time and mix until dough comes together. Scoop dough out of a bowl, divide into two equal parts and flatten gently into two rectangles. Wrap in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes (up to overnight).
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Remove shortbread dough from the fridge. If dough is too cold, allow to warm up slightly until dough is pliable. Roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/2-inch. If dough is too cold and starts to crumble while you roll, simply warm up the dough with your hands and press it into a ball. Once dough is pliable, re-roll. Use a lightly floured fluted 2-inch round cookie cutter to stamp out cookies. Ball up any scrapes and re-roll as necessary.
  5. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet at least 1-inch in apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
  6. Hibiscus Glaze: Bring water to a boil. Add dried hibiscus flowers. Allow to steep for 5-8 minutes until tea is super dark red. Place sifted powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add 3 Tbsp of hibiscus tea to powdered sugar. Stir until mixture is smooth. Dip cookies into hibiscus glaze or drizzle glaze over cookies and top with black sesame seeds.

The Little Epicurean

Black Sesame Shortbread with hibiscus glaze | the little epicurean

18 Responses to “Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies with Hibiscus Glaze”

  1. June 2, 2015
    6:04 am

    What interesting cookies! The hibiscus glaze is so pretty, love it :)

  2. June 2, 2015
    6:27 am
    Jen says...

    These cookies are stunning. Love the black sesame and that hibiscus glaze looks so fun! I’m smitten with these!!

  3. June 2, 2015
    7:21 am

    Maryanne these cookies look amazing! I agree…sometimes you just have to let loose and break the rules!

  4. June 2, 2015
    8:52 pm

    OMGAWWW I’ve been waiting for this recipe since you posted about it on instagram. These are the most rebellious beauties I’ve ever seen! Seriously – the most insane amazing looking cookies ever.

  5. June 4, 2015
    8:48 pm

    These are punk rock perfect! Any time you are up for a punky Alice in Wonderland tea party I am there in a heartbeat! I love that the colours in these art-inspired cookies are all natural and I need to get my hands on some black sesame flour soon! Thanks for introducing me to Katherine Sabbath’s instagram too – she is crazy inspiring!
    I cannot wait to make these, and I’m pinning them just to make sure :)

  6. June 8, 2015
    7:24 am
    Anne says...

    This is brilliant. Simply genius combination!

  7. June 8, 2015
    9:55 am

    Oh, my HEAVENS, these are GOR-GEOUS. I love the colors and I can just imagine the delicious flavors. Pinned and definitely making.

  8. June 10, 2015
    7:57 pm
    Joy says...

    These are so pretty, Maryanne! I will feel like such a princess hosting the daintiest high tea if I serve these.

  9. June 25, 2015
    6:33 pm
    Gilli says...

    Bookmarked to try soon — thanks for sharing! Not only do they sound delish, but they have a delightfully extravagant look about them, like some delectable treat not available to mere mortals … ;)

  10. June 25, 2015
    10:28 pm

    These cookies are gorgeous! And I love the hibiscus glaze!

  11. June 30, 2015
    2:28 pm
    Sharon says...

    Beautiful cookies! Can the cookies be stacked once the glaze is dry?

    • Maryanne Cabrera replied...

      Thank you! Yes, they can be stacked once the glaze is set.

  12. September 26, 2015
    9:09 pm
    Rachel L says...

    How GORGEOUS! My dad is a big fan of black sesame, so I will need to make these for him!

  13. October 1, 2015
    12:49 pm

    What a cool idea! The color is amazing too! Love them!

  14. June 12, 2016
    8:46 am
    Meghan says...

    I am having issues locating the black sesame flour online. Is it the same as black sesame powder?

    • Maryanne Cabrera replied...

      Yes, sometimes it’s listed as black sesame powder. Make sure to check the ingredients list. It should be 100% black sesame seeds.

  15. March 14, 2017
    2:54 am
    David says...

    Hi – how long do these cookies last for? Thinking of making them a day or two in advance of a party… is that too long?

    • Maryanne Cabrera replied...

      Cookies last for 3-4 days. I suggest making it the day before the party.

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