Go Back

sea salt and pepperberry cacao shortbread

Now, don’t be put off if you don’t yet have the pepperberry sea salt blend. Simply substitute sea salt flakes and coarsely ground black pepper. And the raw cacao I used can be replaced with unsweetened cocoa powder.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Resting Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 35 mins
Course: Snack, sweet treat
Servings: 30 cookies (approx)
Author: Robyn Mayne


the shortbread

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour or gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk large
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or better still fresh vanilla from the pod
  • 1 tsp sea salt with native pepperberry or 1/2 tsp sea salt & 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

the roll mix

  • 1 or 2 tsp sea salt with native pepperberry or salt and pepper in the ratio you refer
  • 1 Tbsp coarse sugar I used raw sugar
  • egg wash beaten egg with either milk or water


  • Sift together the flour and cacao/cocoa powder
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low until smooth (or mix by hand with a wooden spoon if you have the time and energy). Add the sugar and continue to beat until butter is smooth. Add the egg yolk, salt and pepperberry mix and vanilla and mix until smooth
  • Add the dry ingredients 1/3 at a time, beating on low speed only until each lot is fully incorporated
  • Turn out the dough on a floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and roll into two 2.5-3 cm thick logs (about 15 cm long). Roll the logs back and forth under your palms to get a good shape. Once formed, wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours. TIP: Placing your plastic wrapped shortbread dough rolls inside a paper towel roll (or similar) will help them to keep shape and not flatten on one side while they rest in the fridge
    tasmanian sea salt and native pepperberry
  • To bake, preheat your oven to 175C (350F)
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment/baking paper
  • Remove the dough rolls from the fridge, brush each roll with egg wash and sprinkle with the pepperberry salt blend (or salt and black pepper) and sugar mixture
  • Use a sharp knife to cut logs into rounds and place them on the baking sheet, leaving approx 3 cm between them - they will spread a little
  • Bake for 14-16 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the 7-minute mark
  • Remove from oven and let sit on the tray for a few minutes – they will firm up enough to lift without breaking in this time. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool to room temperature


Make it gluten free: use your prefered gluten free flour (either a home-made mix or pre-packaged). Depending on your choice of flour mix (there are many different blends) you may not be able to do a straight 1:1 replacement as your shortbread will be too crumbly. You may need to add xanthan gum to help bind the dough and tapioca starch or rice flour to help make the shortbread crisp.
Make it sugar free: Use stevia and a bulking agent of your choice. See here for stevia information. Be aware that your substitution may change the texture of your shortbread so substitute with care. Also take into consideration that the sugar crystals around the outside of the cookies will caramelise slightly and add a crunchy deliciousness that you’d miss with stevia.
Make it egg free: Just leave it out of the shortbread mixture! Traditional shortbread doesn’t contain eggs so you won’t miss it. And try water or milk to bind the sugar/salt/pepper mix to the outside.
Make it dairy free: Now, a disclaimer: I haven’t tried this… I have seen recipes online for a direct swap of the butter for the same amount of coconut oil. If you try this, I’d love to hear how it goes. Let me know below.