What’s Cookin’ – Honey Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

A few weeks ago, a friend from high school, Karen H., posted a comment about enjoying some homemade Honey Rosemary Shortbread Cookies.  I love shortbread cookies.  I love rosemary and have an abundance in my herb garden.  I love making things that combine unusual ingredients.  This recipe was a win win win for me so I asked her to share it.

She used the recipe from the May / June 2011 edition of Midwest Living, but she commented that, while they were lovely cookies, they were a little dry, and she would make them a little differently next time.  I did some research and experimented, and I came up with the following recipe (different kinds and amounts of ingredients and different mixing technique).  So the credit goes to Midwest Living for giving us the idea to try these, but the final product here has been renamed in honor of my friend, Karen H., who thought to make the original batch and share her thoughts about how good they were.

The ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Note on the sugar:  I ended up using superfine Baker’s sugar which is readily available in the grocery store, but it can be pricey.  My friend, Laura, suggests that you can take regular granulated sugar (they measure equally 1:1) and mix it in a blender for a few seconds.  Her brother, the chef, gave her this idea.

Note on the rice flour:  The rice flour helps to make these a tender cookie, and I always have some on hand to make gluten free recipes for my family members with celiac disease.  If you do not have rice flour and do not want to buy it, then feel free to substitute all-purpose flour.

Sift together the dry ingredients – the two flours, rosemary, and salt.

Okay, my sifting technique is to dump the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl and whisk them together.

Note on the rosemary:  Rosemary can be woody so be sure to mince your fresh rosemary very finely for this recipe.  The original recipe called for 2 to 3 teaspoons.  My rosemary is very fresh and very strong so I used only 2 teaspoons.

Put the butter that has been softened to room temperature into the bowl of your mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.

Note on the butter:  You don’t want the butter to be either too hard or too soft.  Usually, butter that has sat out for about 30 minutes will be the perfect temperature to beat.  If it’s too hard, you will know it.  If it’s too soft, put it back into the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the honey and mix until well combined.

As you are mixing the butter and sugars, be sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl often so all of the ingredients are well combined.

While the mixer is on medium speed, slowly add the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

The most critical part of making cookies is this stage – where you beat together the butter and the sugars.  You want to add the sugar slowly and, for this cookie, beat for a minimum of 5 minutes.

For some cookies, you may want to beat the butter and sugars together for up to 10 minutes.  This stage is where you incorporate the air that makes the cookies light and tender.

Here is the butter and sugar mixture after beating for 5 minutes.  It is light, smooth, and creamy, but not too soft.

The next step, where you add your flour mixture, requires that you mix just until well combined.  At this point, you DO NOT want to overbeat as overworking the gluten in the flour will result in a tough cookie.

Add the flour in three batches, and mix just until well combined.

Here is what the dough looks like after adding the flour.

Put the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top and knead gently 5 to 6 times to ensure that everything is combined.

Here is what the dough will look like.  The dough will be soft, but not too sticky.

You may need to use a little extra flour as you roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.  Use as little flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  Adding too much additional flour will result in a tough cookie.

Here is the first batch rolled out and cut with a 2 inch cookie cutter.

After rolling out and cutting, gently place the cookies onto ungreased airbake cookie sheets or cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper.

Prick the cookies three times with the tines of a fork.

Here’s a batch ready to bake.

These cookies do not spread much so they can be placed fairly close together on a cookie sheet.  Bake in an oven, preheated to 325° F, for 12 to 16 minutes.  Mine took exactly 14 minutes.  You do not want to overbake these or bake them until they get browned.  The edges should be firm, and they should only be slightly browned on the bottoms.

Here they are baked.

They almost look the same before they go into the oven as they do when they come out.  Remove to a cooling rack.

Here they are ready to eat.

Karen recommends enjoying these with tea.  The nice thing about shortbread cookies is that they will keep for several days in a sealed container.  They actually taste a little better after the first day.  My little girls did not like these, and I suspect that many young children may not.  They are not super sweet.  But, they are a sophisticated little cookie that is just sweet enough with the hint of rosemary.


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