I don't know about the rest of you, but I came out of the holiday season ready to shift gears back to my normal, healthy diet. Don't get me wrong, I love cookies and cakes and stuffing and Christmas dinner as much as the next gal, but after almost two months of it, I am usually burned out.
"So why are you posting a cookie recipe?" you might ask.
*Sigh. Because I baked on Sunday. A lot. You see, I moved across the country last winter, and have been seriously missing some people back home. And, my favorite way to show a person I have been thinking about him or her is to bake. Sifting together ingredients, getting my hands in some dough clears my mind, puts me in a good mood, and leaves me with yummy treats to share with others. What more can a girl ask for? So, completely ignoring the fact that my friends at home are probably cookied-out, I baked and baked and baked until my countertops were completely covered with about 9 dozen little treats. These Lemon Basil cookies just happened to be one of them.
Shortbread is easy, simple, and incredibly versatile (I have recently made Heidi Swanson’s Pinenut Rosemary version, and am looking at making a rosewater pistachio version and an espresso version sometime soon). There are a million different ways to play. Healthy? No. Awesome? Yes.
Lemon Basil Shortbread
Lemon Basil Shortbread
2 cups white whole-wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup natural cane sugar
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
Sift together the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a separate large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy (Note: if “room temperature” is as cold at your house as it is at mine in the winter, you can put the butter in the microwave for 5 second intervals until it softens up. Be sure not to zap it longer than this though…you don’t want it to melt at all). Beat in the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and basil until incorporated. Mix in 1/3 of the flour at a time until it is all incorporated (and give your arm a nice workout, if mixing by hand). Don’t mix too much after the dough is pretty uniform. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, cover with a second piece of plastic wrap and smash into a patty about one or two inches thick.* (Note, this step is just for ease of handling the dough…you can skip the whole plastic wrap thing and just transfer the dough to a plate or something if you don’t care to use saran). Transfer the dough to the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow it to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and roll out to ~1/4 inch thick (if you are getting a bit of sticking, sprinkle the top of the dough with a bit of flour). Stamp out cookies with your favorite cutter, and transfer to the baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies are starting to brown, then chow down with a cup of tea or glass of milk. Enjoy.