Khanom Kleeb Lamduan (Thai Shortbread) – Recipe

To be fair, I'm pretty sure I've done stranger things than smoking cookies at half past midnight on a Saturday night. I just can't think of any off the top of my head right now.

Khanom kleeb lamduan are pretty similar to Western shortbread cookies in the sense that they're simply made from sugar, flour and a type of fat to create a melt-in-the-mouth, buttery biscuit. The things that sets them apart, however, is that they're shaped to look like three-petaled Thai lamduan flowers. Oh, and you smoke them with incense. Not just any incense, mind- it has to be a Thai candle called a "tian op" or "tian ob". It's made out of beeswax and various lovely things like ylang ylang, frankincense and other herbs and spices. All you have to do is place the things (usually sweet things) that you want to smoke into a pot, light the candle, wait for a few seconds, blow it out, chuck it in the pot and quickly cover to catch the smoke. Then you just leave everything to infuse for a few hours. Done!

Tian op aren't that easy to find in the UK- I was lucky to find them being sold online. If you can't find them, add a teaspoon of water to the shortbread dough (although it'd be a shame, because the fragrance of the incense is a big feature in these cookies). The dough itself is pretty simple in terms of ingredients; it's the shaping that's a bit of a pain (and colouring, if like me you decide to dye them fun colours with food colouring). Colouring is optional, but without a little shaping, these aren't kleeb lamduan. They're just kleeb.

If you search lamduan flowers you'll see they have three petals and a centre part split into three- I actually forgot to score the pattern of the centre part before baking, so I had to lightly score a criss-cross in the middle as soon as I took them out of the oven. Not ideal or authentic, but better than nothing! In fact some people make these with four petals, or just use a cookie cutter. As long as you make at least a little effort to make these flower-shaped, you're doing fine.

The ingredients are simple: the real tricky part is getting the dough to the correct consistency:damp enough with oil to form a pliale dough, but not too damp so that the shape is lost upon baking. Kind of like macarons, this will take practice. Believe it or not, anything from humidity to the temperature of the environment you're working in will effect how much oil you'll need to achieve the best texture of dough, so don't be afraid to experiment.


150g plain flour
75g icing sugar
1/2tsp salt
8-10tbsp melted coconut oil (start with 8, increase by half-tbsp but half-tbsp if necessary, add another tbsp of plain flour if necessary)


1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line two baking sheets with baking parchment

2) Stir all of the ingredients together and knead with your hands until it forms a dough (it should not be sticky or crumbly)

3) Make little balls out of the dough, slice them into quarters and re-assemble on a lined baking sheet using three out of four quarters for each flower, so each flower has three petals. Now make smaller balls, place in the middle and score three divisions in the centre part (score quite deeply so that they'll retain their shape when baking)

4) Bake for 10-12 minutes, taking them out before they go brown

5) Cool completely, place in a pot with space in the middle, and place the tian op in the centre resting on a bowl or some foil. Light the tian op, wait for a few seconds for it to burn the wax, blow it out and very quickly cover the pot to trap the smoke. Let sit for anything from 10 minutes to overnight, depending on how strong you like the flavour (I like it very strong, but some people only like a very light fragrance)

6) Enjoy!


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