Spice Rack: Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies

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Because I don’t have enough going on I decided to take part in the Spice Rack Challenge, hosted by Mother’s Kitchen. Basically a spice/herb will be the focus each month for an edible creation. Shouldn’t be too difficult to do given there are approximately 90 meals a month. Toss in snacks, drinks, potlucks, parties, preserving and general experiments and you have well over 100 opportunities to use 1 little herb or spice. Do-able!

grow and resist rosemary spice rack challengeRosemary in our garden on a rare sunny January day

I know the basics of what to do with most of the usual suspects. And then I decide to plant something new and all bets are off. Take sorrel. Last summer it was growing like mad in my garden and I had no idea what to do with it until Lara at Food.Soil.Thread posted about a sorrel pesto. It caught me on sorrel fire so to speak. You can read about the many uses I came up with here. Sometimes you just need someone to talk about a spice/herb (method or anything really) to open up a whole new world.

However, enough about sorrel because this month was rosemary. I love the smell of rosemary. Surely, I’m not the only one that can’t resist rubbing their hands on rosemary when you are on a walk so you can sniff them? And, medicinally speaking, there is apparently nothing it isn’t touted to help.

I just came home from sunny California with a suitcase full of lemons and I know they pair well with rosemary so I decided I would go a lemon-rosemary direction. Randomly, I decided to try both a regular (gluten-full) and a gluten-free version of Rosemary Lemon Shortbread.

grow and resist rosemary spice rack challenge and lemonsPretty?

I thought experimenting with a gluten-free recipe would be interesting. I had some gluten-free flours. I did a little research on flour substitution because I didn’t have the variety the recipe called for (tapioca and brown rice flours.) I won’t lie to you… that gluten-free baking world is a confusing one. I used a combination of brown rice, millet & oat flours.

So, how did they turn out? Umm. Utter kitchen fail. They were awful. Into the compost they went. Truly horrid. I’m pretty sure it was my fault trying to figure out the various flours. Next time I attempt gluten-free baking I’ll consult with Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, who makes fantastic baked goods, or find something from gluten-free girl. (As a side note – this week at the kitchn they are having a gluten-free week. Check it out.)

For the gluten version, I went with a Martha recipe.

grow and resist rosemary spice rack challengelooks like we are off to a good start

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread/Butter Cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 stick (unsalted butter)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten, plus 1 egg white (room temp)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • fine sanding sugar
  1. Cream butter & sugar till fluffy.
  2. Add 1 egg and vanilla and beat till mixed.
  3. Add flour, rosemary, lemon and salt. Mix until combined.
  4. Divide dough in half and form each into a log on parchment paper and roll. Should be about 1 ½ inch or so in diameter. Martha has all kinds of instructions about getting it all perfect. But let’s get real. I have a 3-year-old instead of a staff of many. I’m really quite ok with misshapen lopsided cookies.
  5. Freeze logs for an hour or so. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°.
  6. Brush each log with egg whites and roll in sanding sugar. Slice about ¼ inch thick. Bake at 375° for about 18-20 minutes (mine were done in 15. not that we are racing.)

grow and resist rosemary spice rack challengethey certainly don’t look bad right?

Verdict? Sorry Martha. These are just bad cookies. Ok, they aren’t awful. They just aren’t great. Who wants a so-so cookie? Why bother? Sure they were crisp & buttery, but with 2 sticks of butter they should be. They just lacked some… I don’t know… depth? pizzazz? Something. Or Everything.

To be fair I also came to realize that perhaps my love of smelling rosemary doesn’t translate into eating rosemary. Certainly not in sweeter items. I made 2 things for Can Jam last year with rosemary. Both I initially liked, but ultimately were my least favorite things I canned last year. The Rosemary & Pinot Poached Pears in April. And Rhubarb Jam with Honey & Rosemary in May which ended up being a nice glaze for meat, but a terrible jam.

I think from now on I’ll keep rosemary to the savory side. Roasted potatoes? Yes. Grilled meats? Of course. Cookies? Jams? I’ll pass, thanks.

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