Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Vanilla scented lemon and rosemary shortbread cookie recipe

Happy February everyone! It’s officially the last month of winter - in this northern hemisphere anyway. While I have been enjoying the crystal clear days, blue skies and frosty mornings, I’m desperate for spring. Even in my new (vintage) shearling coat I fill chilled to the bone. Added to this I’m desperate for the scent of flowers, the sight of leaves on trees, the sound of birdsong, and the taste of foraged goodies. 

Through the short days when there is barely anything to pick or forage, rosemary has been my readily available, abundant friend. Up the narrow, cobbled, medieval lane behind our house there is a rosemary bush growing innocently, and rather triumphantly, out of an old stone wall. It’s not really owned by anyone, the ancient house overhanging it is long deserted, and most of it is growing over the steep cobbled public path.   

I’ve been focused on finding new uses for rosemary all winter. A couple of weeks ago I attempted a lemon and rosemary possett, and while the fusion of lemon and rosemary was fabulous, there were some texture issues. Cream in France is dissimilar to English cream, and I’m still searching for something that will set. Nevertheless, I’ve come across several recipes for lemon and rosemary shortbread and cookies recently. And there are no cream issues with cookies! 

We’re heading to Munich tomorrow morning for a few days to visit my good friend Alice who recently gave birth to gorgeous twin daughters. They’ve been suffering a little with the long Bavarian winter. So I thought I would bake and take with me some cookies, along with a bunch of organic decaffeinated teas that Alice has been missing in Munich.    

The recipe I used is an adaptation from one I found over at Pete Bakes. I chopped and changed a couple of things, adding vanilla seeds, as opposed to vanilla essence to give the cookies a slightly more decadent edge. I also rolled the cookie dough log in chopped rosemary, vanilla sugar and finely chopped rosemary to infuse the edges with an extra zing.

The result? Perfect little cookies that travel well, flavoured with earthy rosemary, which balances beautifully with zingy lemon zest. Beware these cookies are so tasty that once you start eating them it’s really difficult to stop. So before you bake, make sure you’ve got somewhere to take them, or people to share them with.   
The recipe makes around 40 small cookies. You can also roll the dough log and leave it in the fridge for a few days, if you fancy serving the cookies hot.

1 cup of unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup raw cane sugar
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 egg
½ vanilla bean
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla sugar

Step one: Chop the butter into small cubes and together with the cane sugar place in a large mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to mix the sugar and the butter until the mixture is pale and light in colour.  

Step two: Then add most of the egg, vanilla seeds, salt, sifted flour, and most of the lemon zest and rosemary (hold a little back to roll the dough log through), and mix together. Once the flour is added the dough will morph into a consistency you can knead.
Step three: Roll the dough into a log, seal with plastic cling film and refrigerate for an hour or longer.  

Step four: Set the oven to 180C. Scatter the remaining lemon zest, rosemary and vanilla sugar on a clean surface. Remove the log from the fridge, unwrap it and roll through the mixture, lightly covering the outside of the log. 

Step five: Once it’s covered line a baking tray with aluminium foil, or baking paper. Cut the log into 5mm slices and place on the baking tray. Bake for 12 minutes, and then cool on a wire rack.   

What do you think? Any other cookie combinations you can recommend?  Or just leave me a comment so I know you stopped by! thanks 


ChrisGmail said...

She right once you start eating them you can not stop! Love it

Patricia (La Chatte Gitane) said...

Rosemary works so well in shortbread. Aren't you lucky to have this rosemary plant on 'your doorstep'.
I always seem to pick mine bare before they can establish :-/, but I keep on trying to grow them. :)

Melanie said...

Hi Patricia, rosemary is fussy isn't it? We've been trying to get it established in London for years. Now we rely on a friend with an enourmous old bush. It seems that when they get established, they really do well.... but establishing them is tough!

Kath said...

Hi. I have eaten the cookies at alice's house they are delicious!

Kath said...

Hi. I have eaten the cookies at alice's house they are delicious!

Melanie said...

thanks Kath! Really glad you enjoyed them!

Julia @The Roasted Root said...

I want a plate of these to have with tea! They look delicious! I've been experimenting with rosemary too - have you tried making an olive oil rosemary cake yet? They're fantastic! Your shortbread recipe looks great!

Boolie said...

I have figured out how to get on your blog and, being determined, found the rosemary and lemon cookie recipe. You have made everything easy but I am not that swift with blogs so am writing you to tell you that my friend, a damn good cook and a professional in the past, and myself think they may be the best cookies we have ever tasted in our accumulated 128 years of life on this planet! :-) We are thinking about it!

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