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Vanilla Shortbread Cookies with Salted Caramel

A light crispy shortbread cookie, iced with mascarpone, drizzled with caramel and then sprinkled with sea salt. You can make your own caramel sauce (see my link above) or use store bought caramel sauce. Because shortbread dough is very soft I recommend wider flatter cookie cutter shapes like stars and trees rather than thinner shapes like candy canes.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword easy dessert recipe, kid-friendly recipes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 20 servings
Author Linda Spiker


Shortbread dough:

  • 2 1/2 sticks butter soft (1 and a 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract but I prefer paste

Mascarpone Topping:

  • 4 oz Mascarpone cheese or cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract the paste gives you beautiful flecks of vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce see my link for homemade above or use store bought
  • Sea salt preferably flaked for garnish
  • cookie "glitter" if desired


Shortbread prep:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 and place rack in center of oven.
  2. Line cookie sheet with parchment and set aside.
  3. Using a hand mixer or bowl mixer, mix butter and sugars in a large bowl until well blended.
  4. Add salt and vanilla paste (or extract)
  5. Add flour and mix. The dough will look very crumbly.
  6. Use hands to gently form dough into a ball, then flatten into a disk shape.
  7. Dust counter top with generous amount of flour, place disk in center, dust top of dough.
  8. Use a rolling pin to roll dough 1/4 " thick. Shortbread cookies are thick.
  9. Cut dough with cookie cutters. Form the left over dough into a disk again, roll and cut more cookies.
  10. Bake on parchment covered cookie sheet for 12-13 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven, slide parchment off cookie sheet and onto a wire rack, allow cookies to cool. When cool frost and sprinkle with "glitter flakes" if desired.
  12. To drizzle with caramel: heat caramel, place cookies on parchment, drizzle caramel onto parchment first then onto cookie to prevent caramel from pooling on cookie. Then lightly sprinkle each cookie with sea salt by taking a small pinch and grinding between thumb and index finger.

Mascarpone frosting prep:

  1. Use a mixer to blend mascarpone, vanilla and powdered sugar till smooth.