Lavender & Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Cookies are my go to sweet indulgence – in large part thanks to my mom. My aunt is quoted as saying to her “you can whip up a batch of cookies from scratch in 10 minutes!”. I haven’t timed her but she probably can. You turn your back, and bam! there is a plate of cookies. There was never a shortage of cookies around our house, my favorite being her oatmeal cookies.
Now these cookies are nothing like an oatmeal cookie but they are in the running to become our “house” cookie. I have been tinkering with this recipe for years after discovering a simple cookie ratio in the book Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. He calls them “1-2-3” cookies because the recipe is 1 part sugar to 2 parts butter to 3 parts flour by weight. This ratio gives you a basic rich, crumbly shortbread cookie. Once you have the basic cookie down, you can alter it in so many ways: add flavorings such as nuts, extract or spices or use different types of sugar or fat. You can then take it a step further and add eggs or leaveners to get a softer, chewier crumb. Look at any of your favorite cookie recipes and you can see how they are based on this ratio.
I think it’s beneficial to compare different recipes to give you an idea of how varying the ratio will change the end result. For example, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe has a bit more butter and a bit less flour than the standard ratio so I would assume it’s 1) richer and 2) more tender (as less flour means less gluten).
- Cook’s Illustrated “Best Shortbread” Recipe
- Recipe: 2-2/3 ounces sugar :: 7 ounces butter :: 7-1/2 ounces flour
- Ratio: 1 part sugar :: 2.6 parts butter :: 2.8 parts flour
- Add-ins: they add both oats and cornstarch to cut back on gluten development
- Ina Garten’s Shortbread Cookies
- Recipe: 7 ounces sugar :: 12 ounces butter :: 17.5 ounces flour
- Ratio: 1 part sugar :: 1.7 parts butter :: 2.5 parts flour
- Dorie Greenspan’s Shortbread Cookies (which the recipe below is based on)
- Recipe: 2-3/8 ounces sugar :: 4 ounces butter :: 6-5/8 ounces flour
- Ratio: 1 part sugar :: 1.7 parts butter :: 2.8 parts flour
- Add-ins: this recipe uses rice flour in addition to all-purpose because it doesn’t add to gluten development and it gives the cookie a sandy texture
Rosemary is a great ingredient to highlight during the winter months because, depending on the variety, it can be in bloom! Our neighborhood’s community garden is pretty barren in winter but the rosemary plant, with these beautiful purple blooms, is the a bright spot. I have read that rosemary can be planted outside in zones 8 and south but we are zone 7 and it does fine outdoors all year round here. Rosemary loves direct sun and well drained soil so if you have the right spot for it, you could enjoy the flavor and the welcome color in winter.
Freeze the Dough
You can make a big batch of these cookies and easily freeze the dough! I would roll the dough into a log, wrap in plastic and then aluminum foil. You will need to thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight and then press into the pan as directed in the recipe.
Rosemary & Lavender Shortbread Cookies
A deliciously herbal shortbread that is perfect for just about any occasion.
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8" tart pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Whisk together the flours and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until fully incorporated and airy, about 1 minute. Add the rosemary, lavender, lemon zest, vanilla and salt to the sugar and butter and mix until incorporated. With the mixer running, slowly add the flour over low speed until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. There should be clumps of dough at this point.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tart pan and press down lightly with your hand to smooth the surface. The bottom side of a measuring cup is another good way to pat down the surface. Using the tines of a fork and pressing down so you hear the metal tap against the pan, prick lines of holes in the dough to create a dozen wedges. Finish by pressing the bottom of the tines horizontally around the edges of the dough.
Bake for about 23 minutes or until the edges have just started to turn golden but the center is still pale. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then, using a knife or bench scraper, cut the shortbread along the pricked lines. Allow to cool a bit more in the pan and then carefully lift the pieces out using a spatula or cake server and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- These cookies are based on Dorie Greenspan's "Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans" Recipe
- You can omit the rice flour and use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour