Girl Scout Shortbread Cookies

It is that time of the year again, when lots of young girls are busy selling Girl Scout cookies probably outside your local grocery or drugstore.   I decided to post another recipe for The Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Friday #4 instead of waiting for Fiesta Friday #5 as I am not sure how long the cookies will be available.  I just bought some this past weekend and I thought celebrating an American tradition was an excellent idea.  The girls receive the Cookie Activity Pin while utilizing 5 skills by selling cookies; goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

Girl Scout cookies are an icon of American culture and their history began around 1917 in the kitchens of girl members and their mothers as a means to finance troop activities.  In 1922, the American Girl magazine, published by Girl Scout headquarters featured an article with a shortbread cookie recipe that had been given to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts.  That number has now grown to 2.3 million girl members.  They were  sold for around 25 to 30 cents a dozen back then. The small boxes of cookies are now mass produced and there are around 6 different varieties and sell for $4.00 a box; you do get a few more than 12.  Of course it is for a good cause and to support an American tradition and who can resist their friendly, young faces.  Besides, the cookies are absolutely yummy!


Does anyone know any Girls Scouts?  Maybe a daughter, niece,  grandchild or even a neighbor.  Maybe you were a Brownie or a Cadette!  You can become a member at the young age of 5 to 7 as a Daisy and up through ages 16 to 18 as an Ambassador.  I was actually a Brownie, which is 7 to 9 year olds in the 2nd and 3rd grades.  I do not have many memories except for my brown uniform I wore to the meetings.  Rather plain, but very special for me as a young girl.   Not sure why I did not stay with the Girl Scouts but probably because we moved.  I later became a Camp Fire Girl and I also was a Camp Fire Girl Leader.  Camp Fire Girls and the Girl Scouts are connected so check out my comments and pictures after the recipe.

In early spring, 2013 King Arthur Flour Baking Sheet did a recipe makeover of the original Girl Scout cookie recipe sent in by a reader which was first published in 1922 in the American Girl magazine.  It immediately brought back some good memories.   I knew I would have to make these cookies for sentimental reasons.  I also was able to find a vintage trefoil cookie cutter last year on E-bay – my first purchase ever.  I now own an original Drip-O-Later Girl Scout cookie cutter!

Original Girl Scout Shortbread Cookies, 1922

  • 1 cup butter or Substitute
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Combine above ingredients, roll out and cut into desired shapes.  Bake at 350°F for 9-11 minutes.

Recipe by

Girl Scout Shortbread Cookies by King Arthur Flour, 2013 adapted

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbsp. buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream (I used buttermilk)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups (12-3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Combine the butter, sugar and salt.  Cream the mixture for a few minutes until fluffy.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat in the egg.  In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture.  I use my clean hands and work the ingredients together until a smooth dough is formed.

Divide the dough in half and roll flat on two sheets of parchment or wax paper.  Chill for 30 minutes on a baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  Cut with a trefoil or a 2 to 2-1/2-inch cutter and place on the parchment lined baking sheets.

Sprinkle the tops with sparkling white sugar.  This coarse-grained sugar adds a sweet crunch to the cookies.  It holds its shape in the oven and adds a little dressy sparkle to the cookies.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes (11 minutes in my oven), until the edges are just starting to turn brown.  Remove from the oven and cool. 

The Trefoil… shape is meant to symbolize the three parts of the Girl Scout Promise:  To serve God and country, help people at all times, and live by the Girl Scout Law, which invokes honesty, courage, responsibility and respect.   A comparison to the current Girl Scout shortbread cookie on the left and one I made with my vintage trefoil cookie cutter.

DSC_2199 DSC_2209

DSC_2184 DSC_2186 DSC_2187 DSC_2188

I later became a Camp Fire Girl and I also was a Camp Fire Girl Leader.  Camp Fire Girls was created informally in 1910 (formally in 1912) as the sister organization to the Boy Scouts of America.  It was the first nonsectarian, multicultural organization for girls in America, yes before the Girl Scouts.  In 1911 they planned to merge with the recently formed Girl Scouts and become Girl Pioneers of America but relationships soured and the merger failed.

Today, it is a secular co-ed inclusiveness Scout-like organization.  The program emphasizes camping and other outdoor activities for youth.  I have my best memories with this group as I had a  neat felt, blue vest and every time I completed a project I got bead(s) to sew on my vest.  Very cool back then…

Also, I remember the camping trips especially when I found an owl pellet.  An owl cannot digest the fur, bones, teeth and so on of its prey so these parts are formed into a tight pellet inside the owl and then later spit up by the owl.  I got to dissect this pellet and was just fascinated with the whole process.  Later when we lived in the country I found another pellet in our yard and I knew we had owls close by.  Mom and her babies – are they not cute, or what!!!

Owls_0002 Owls_0003

Below are 3 books I own out of the six that were published in 1914.  How fitting as it is 2014,  100 years later.  I also included my Certificate of Appreciation from the Washtenaw Area Council of Camp Fire Girls for being a leader back in 1978.  The antique books were my grandmothers on my mom’s side.  I wonder if she was a Camp Fire Girl at some time…

DSC_2217 DSC_2222

17 thoughts on “Girl Scout Shortbread Cookies

    • I paid the full price and did not even bid as I wanted it for this recipe! I always dip my cutters in flour in between. Then I have to tap the cutter on the counter for it to come out. Does warm water work – I have never tried that?


  1. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #4 | The Novice Gardener

  2. I love girl scout cookies, and have been known to hoard them whenever they’re available. These days I buy them from my neighbors’ kids. Although my favorite kind is Caramel deLites, sometimes also called Samoas, Shortbread definitely is up there too. So nice to have a recipe for them for when they’re being sold. 🙂 Btw, I forgot to ask you how you’d like to be introduced. Juju or Judy? I’m so used to calling you Juju, I didn’t think to ask.


    • Who does not like Girl Scout cookies – we just have our favorites. I use to have kids in the neighborhood who sold them and now it is in front of the grocery store. You can call me anything you want Angie; Juju or Judi (I do spell my name with an i but I do not get bent out of shape if someone spells it Judy – actually it is Judith). Some of the kids still call me Juju and neighbor kids call me Juju – whatever you are comfortable with. Juju is a very sentimental and fun name for me and one I will always treasure 🙂


  3. My kids love girl scout cookies! Just got 4 packs yesterday from my husband’s co-worker’s kids. thanks for the fascinating and delightful background around the girl scout cookies and it is awesome to have a recipe for these too! thanks! 🙂


  4. I have such fond memories whenever I see Girl Scout cookies. I was a Girl Scout for 13 years – the full lineup from Daisy Scouts to Seniors! I remember selling my first cookies as a young girl and they’ll always hold a special place in my heart 🙂 Love me some Thin Mints, Samoas, and Do-Si-Do’s! Sadly I remember when they were ~$2.50 a box…


  5. That is good Indu – you are supporting your local Girl Scouts – a great organization for girls. I am happy you enjoyed the background on the cookies; being a teacher/librarian (retired) I love kids and doing research on things I like such as cooking 🙂


    • Family came last weekend and not many cookies were left out of the 4 boxes I bought. I actually tried to hide them in the pantry but a smart nephew found them – they know my hiding spots… 🙂 I made these shortbread cookies after they left as I did not have time before they came! Nothing like 4 hours notice…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.