Shortbread times four

Weekend Herb BloggingThis summer, a group of friends and I met on the University of Iowa’s Pentacrest (Which always sounds vaguely devil-worshippy to me, but really is as close as they come to a traditional main quad…) to picnic and see a free showing of Superman. With Superman Returns in theaters, it seemed appropriate to take it back where it started.

I volunteered to bring dessert, since I had seen Christiane Britton’s post on Rosemary Shortbread, and wanted to give it a try. “I’m sure you could substitute any other fresh herbs you have on hand,” Christiane said in her post, and that got me to thinking.

On hand, I had basil, parsley, rosemary, lavender, sage and mint. I discounted mint and parsley as bad ideas, embraced the idea of rosemary and lavender, and then thought about my final two options.

I’d had basil ice cream before, and had read about basil lemonades, so I thought basil would probably work fine in a sweet, buttery cookie. And, as everyone knows, sage and butter is one of my very favorite combinations. While I’d never eaten a sage cookie, nor heard of sage used in dessert, I thought I’d give it a try.

I mixed up four batches, one with each herb. The results? Lavender was lovely, but awfully subtle. Next time, I’d grind up even more of the flowers. Rosemary? It imparts a rich and woodsy flavor to the buttery treats.

Basil worked well, but sage was definitely my favorite. It’s a strong herb, so those who like it less than I do would be well-advised to cut back a little bit.

One other note: Christiane recommends 1 tsp. of the fresh herbs. I took my quantity higher in all cases, going with about 2 tsp. of fresh, pulverized lavender blossoms for that batch, and then about a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs for the other three batches.

Also, when the cookies come out of the oven, they’re pretty fabulous. But if you can stand to let them sit in a container for a day, the flavors deepen and become much richer. Just be sure not to mix the flavors in the same container, or you might muddy the taste a little bit.

ShortbreadHerbed Shortbread

1 c. flour
1/4 c. plus 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 to 3 tsp. fresh herbs, finely chopped
1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, 1/4 c sugar, and salt into a medium bowl. Stir in the herbs. Add the butter and stir with a fork until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in half and pat into 2 thin 6″ discs on a parchment-lined baking sheet or a baking stone. Cut each disc into 8 wedges. Prick each wedge with a fork, and sprinkle the remaining sugar over the dough. Bake the shortbread until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Re-cut the wedges after removing from the oven, and cool completely on a baking rack.

This is my post for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Piperita of The Kitchen Pantry. Please visit Piperita’s round-up for plenty of delicious recipes!

9 Responses to “Shortbread times four”

  1. 1 Kalyn September 17, 2006 at 10:26 am

    Unfortunately, this is very not-on-my-diet, which I’ve been cheating far too much on recently, so now I am working hard to get back on track. (Only gained a few pounds, but the red flags were going up all over.) It does sound wonderful though, and a very interesting way to use herbs. I think 28 Cooks has a lot of good recipes; she’s one of my faves.

  2. 2 Cyd September 17, 2006 at 10:48 am

    A good variation on a breakfast theme.. Will have to try out for guests Thanx!

  3. 3 coffeepot September 18, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    Oh I can’t wait to try thr sage! Thanks so much!

  4. 4 Jeanne September 18, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    Oh, wow!! These sound great – I don’t know which to try first, but for you, probably the sage. Can’t wait!

  5. 5 sher September 18, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    Oh my!! That makes my mouth water! I must make them!

  6. 6 inadvertentgardener September 18, 2006 at 10:01 pm

    Kalyn, after two days in Chicago on the heels of a week in the D.C. area, I need to watch what I eat again, too! I hear ya…

    Coffeepot and Jeanne, enjoy the sage version!

    Sher, they’re really delicious…so much better than the storebought stuff!

  7. 7 Carol Cullens December 11, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    I just used a shortbread stone for the first time last evening and was seriously disappointed. We waited forever for the stone to be cool enough to try to remove the lightly-browned dough, then the shortbread wouldn’t come off the stone, and we ended up prying it out in pieces. Not that they didn’t taste great, but so much for the lovely designs on the stone. What the heck should we have done differently than simply patting the dough into the stone, letting it bake at 300 until it was lightly browned, taking it out and cooling it and attempting to turn it out of the stone?

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener December 12, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    Carol, I’ve never used a shortbread stone, so I’m not sure why it didn’t work. Did you spray the stone with cooking spray? Or is that not recommended? I would think all the butter in the shortbread would allow it to release easily, but without knowing more about this stones, I’m not sure.

    Did you try turning the stone over and tapping gently on the underside around the stone itself? That might have helped with the releasing, perhaps?

    Sorry you didn’t have better luck. I’d recommend going with the more freeform version in the future — I can guarantee that works!

  1. 1 Sage Shortbread « Coffee & Cornbread Trackback on October 22, 2006 at 3:51 pm

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