On a recent shopping excursion I had the opportunity to sample some amazing shortbread laced with rosemary and sea salt. It wasn’t a combination I was likely to have come up with, but the flavors worked together so perfectly. The strange combination of sweet, savory and salty balanced each other out so well. I purchased a small bag – under half a pound – and was a little taken aback by the sale price. There is nothing in these cookies that is remotely expensive or hard to find, and they are incredibly easy to make. Nonetheless, I paid for the shortbread and left thinking, “Why don’t I just go home and make these?” A short while later that’s exactly what I did.
I based this version on the Classic Shortbread recipe by Brown Bag Cookie Art. The method I’ve outlined below is what I find to be the easiest way to shape and bake the cookies. If you prefer cutting yours into rectangles or baking the whole thing in a shortbread pan, by all means do so. They’ll spread a bit during baking, but otherwise tend to hold their shape.
I’m very pleased with how these shortbread cookies turned out. They tasted very much like the ones I’d purchased, but the texture was infinitely better. Most likely that is because they hadn’t been sitting around on a shelf for an unknown length of time, and not because there was anything wrong with the manufacturer’s recipe. My husband calls them sandcastle cookies because of the way they fall apart in your mouth. He’s often playing in the sandbox with our daughter teaching her how to make sandcastles, so it’s imagery that’s in the forefront of his mind.
Though I only made a pot as a photography prop, it turns out this shortbread pairs remarkably well with chamomile citrus tea.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Cream the butter until it is light and fluffy.
- Cream in the powdered sugar and rosemary.
- Next work in the flour, adding half of it at a time.
- Knead the dough on an unfloured board until smooth. A bench scraper is your friend here.
- Roll the dough into a cylinder approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate several hours, or overnight if you have time. The dough should become quite firm.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
- Dip a knife in hot water, wipe dry, and use to slice the dough into 15 rounds, each about 1/4 inch thick. Continue to dip and wipe the blade between each slice.
- Arrange the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
- Sprinkle each round lightly with sea salt.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges just barely begin to brown.
- Transfer to a cooling rack.
This recipe can easily be doubled. Just roll the dough into a longer cylinder and slice into 30 rounds.