This time last week you were probably reading the paper a bit blurry-eyed and extra sleepy after losing an hour of sleep to daylight savings time. Springing forward sixty minutes is strangely staggering to the schedule. Hopefully by now we’re all starting to settle in to the longer days and enjoying the extra time to be outside.
Spring won’t officially be here until the 20th of March, but after this long winter of ice, snow, and consistently frosting mornings, these sunny afternoons make it feel like the warming season is well underway. I was walking through my yard this past weekend, taking stock of the perennials, when I discovered a few green sprouts on the rosemary. So tiny and thin, the shoots looked so hopeful amid all the dead, crunchy leaves. I picked a few and tucked them in my pocket. Sure, I could use them to cook some veggies or add them to a salad, but these warm days make me want to throw parties. So I knew just what to do with that handful of green sprigs: make cookies.
I know it’s somewhat off topic for this column, but every so often it’s fun to take a break from themes of history and culture and focus on something straight forward and celebratory. So I’m sharing this super simple recipe for rosemary shortbread cookies, a favorite in our home.
Herb-based cookies were popular during Victorian days but are hard to come by today. Something so savory may sound like an unpleasant addition to sweets, but these cookies have a surprisingly subtle and delicate taste. They go really well with teas, sherberts, fresh fruit, or sweet and savory jams, like tomato jam. Because they’re basically just rolled sugar cookies, you can also use cookie cutters to mold them into any shape, which makes the process extra fun if you have young children around. Coating the outside with a rough texture like a bit of cornmeal or Sugar in the Raw makes them extra fun to eat.
I originally found this recipe at Allrecipes.com, but after experimenting with multiple batches I’ve changed a few things here and there. Use this as a base and concoct your own additions.
What You Need:
1 ½ cups unsalted butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped rosemary
2 ¾ cup white flour (you can also substitute rice flour or other gluten free options)
¼ teaspoon salt (I like to use Kosher salt for extra texture)
2 tablespoons extra sugar for decoration
How to Make Them:
- Leave butter out for a while to soften. Cream together butter and sugar until whipped. Stir in the flour and the chopped rosemary until blended.
- Cover dough and refrigerate for one hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper (coating the cookie sheets in butter will also work. Just be sure and watch them closely to avoid burning cookies).
- Roll out dough onto floured surface to about ¼ inch thickness. Use cookie cutters for shapes or cut dough into small rectangles.
- Add a bit of extra flour to the surface of the cookie and then sprinkle with sugar, cornmeal, or a mixture of the two.
- Bake for about 8 minutes until slightly golden around the edges.
- Cool on a wire wrack and store in an airtight container. Allow to keep for a few days for maximum flavor.
What are some of the dishes you make to welcome spring? I’d love to hear about them.
Rosemary cookies with tomato jam
Lemon and rosemary sugar cookies
Rosemary chocolate chip shortbread
Lemon curd recipes
The Seed and the Story is a partnership with the Courier newspaper in Pope and Yell County, Arkansas. This weekly column explores folklife, oral history, and community in central Arkansas, particularly the Yell County area where the column originates. Columns are often written in partnership with the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources and Community Action and humbly attempt to bridge intergenerational themes in the region.