When life gives you a balcony, grow an herb garden. Our balcony is far from our home in US, in many ways. We’re an ocean and some miles away but the size of this balcony is peanuts compared to the backyard in our old home. We miss the green space that looked out to the preserved area past the fence. After moving into our apartment last August, with peak planting season behind us, I was certain I’d plant herbs this year. Thankfully the local farmer’s market had all the herbs I wanted. Basil, Cilantro (Coriander), Chives, Thyme, Oregano and Rosemary. Thus far, Basil and Rosemary are growing a lot, really fast. Last week I made Basil Pesto for Risotto. This week I used Rosemary for shortbread.
I loosely adapted Melissa Clark’s shortbread recipe. I probably won’t be doing that again because her recipe called to bake the shortbread in a pan and then cutting into squares. Instead I made rounds and baked them individually. I formed the dough into a log, refrigerated it and then sliced into rounds. While it was baking, it spread and I freaked out so I removed the baking pan from the oven a 1 minute sooner then I should’ve. I didn’t let the cookies rest long enough thus yielding soft, droopy cookies. Thankfully, I managed to get some decent looking ones for a picture.
I also followed my own method to making the dough. So really, I just used her recipe as a guide for the ingredients and then created my own method.
Don’t make the mistakes I made for the shortbread and you’ll have a winner. This is also why I dislike baking, everything is so precise and it HAS to be this way or that way because Science says so. blah. And it doesn’t help that I’m world’s most impatient person.
If there’s a lesson to be learned here, unless you know what you’re really doing (in baking), follow the recipe and don’t make up methods.
Yields 12- 16 cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon plus a pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold butter
Heat oven to 325F degrees. In a large bowl combine flour, chopped nuts, sugar, rosemary and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a fork. Don’t overwork the dough; it should resemble coarse wet sand. Place the dough, crumbs and all, on plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic wrap over the dough and shape the dough into a log. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the log from the fridge, unwrap the plastic wrap and slice into 1cm rounds. Place the rounds on a cookie sheet and bake for 8- 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let the shortbread rest, 20 minutes, before moving the cookies. When cool enough to touch, place the cookies on a wire rack for further cooling down. *
Here’s her method:
Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, pulse together flour, nuts, sugar, rosemary and salt. Add butter, and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don't overprocess. Dough should not be smooth.
Press dough into an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan or 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.
Even with all the provisions, the cookies were delightful. After 30 minutes of resting on a wire rack, I tasted them and the rosemary flavor was spot on. Of course, many were broken but that’s part of learning that I need to stop straying off the recipe path. The husband tried them after dinner and liked them as well, which is saying a lot since he doesn’t like cookies or any form of sugary goodness except chocolate cake, coconut cake or mousse.
*Something I just read (and overlooked) from Melissa Clark’s recipe, use cold butter! That was an important detail I ignored and had so-so results. None the less, if you try my method with rolling a log and sliced rounds, I’d love to hear about it.