Disclaimer: I have been on an epic sweets-making bender for the past week. The next few posts here are going to be devoted to cookies and candies. I hope you don’t mind too much.
I’ll start with something on the savory side of sweet: rosemary shortbread cookies. I got a packet of them as a party favor from my office’s holiday shindig last week, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.
I don’t celebrate Christmas, but these seem like the perfect Christmas cookie: salty-sweet and tinted with honey, fragrant in a way that reminds me of evergreen trees. They’re sturdy enough to be packaged as gifts, but sophisticated enough that you’re bound to really impress someone. I love these little guys.
I know I’ve said before that I’m not a shortbread kinda girl. And I know that this is now the second shortbread cookie recipe I’ve featured on this blog in its short existence. I have no excuse for this. But the fact is, these little cookies, even more than the margarita ones, are swaying me from my hard-cookie grinchness. And let’s be honest: whether you are Team Crumbly or Team Chewy, you know a good cookie when you see one.
I adapted these cookies from a lavender shortbread recipe, and in fact, you could very easily use lavender in place of rosemary. In fact, I would have, except that the only lavender I have is the soap-scenting kind, not the cookie-baking kind. In either case, the holy grail here is gentle herb perfume, not a mouthful of soapy-tasting leaves. Both lavender and rosemary are woodsy herbs, so I would recommend chopping them up finely to avoid interrupting the lovely butter-flaky texture of the cookies themselves.
I made these cookies teensy, so I could give little gift bags to the folks in my office. I imagine they would be equally satisfying in larger sizes–in fact, that might solve my current problem of wanting to gobble cookie after cookie off the baking sheet. I’m not entirely convinced there will be enough left for gift bags by the time I leave for work tomorrow.
Perhaps I’ll just have to bake more. I feel another cookie bender coming on…
Rosemary or Lavender Shortbread Cookies (makes about 3 dozen cookies, give or take)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp fresh rosemary or lavender, or 1 tsp dried
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks or 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Granulated or raw (turbinado) sugar for sprinkling (optional)
If using fresh herbs, mince them finely. If using dried, crush them between your palms until broken up into fine powdery pieces.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and rosemary or lavender. Use a fork or whisk to mix everything together thoroughly. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a food processor, combine butter, honey and powdered sugar. Use an electric mixer, or the food processor, to cream everything together. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough starts to come together–you want some big bean-sized chunks, some small pea-sized chunks, and some pebbly bits.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface or a large piece of parchment. (If you’re using parchment, I recommend taping down the edges so it stays put.) Knead the dough until it comes together into a coherent mass, then divide in half and roll each half into a log. For big broad cookies, make the logs short and chubby; for itty-bitty cookies, make them long and noodly. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or until firm. If you don’t want to bake the cookies right away, the tightly-wrapped dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer for at least two weeks.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350º F and line a baking sheet or two with parchment. Slice the chilled log of dough into cookies about half an inch wide. Lay the slices on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart, and sprinkle the tops with sugar (if you swing that way). Bake until pale golden brown and just firm–anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies and how cold they were when you started.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, or transfer them to a wire rack. They’ll be puffy and tender when warm, then get flaky and crumbly as they cool.