rosemary shortbread . . .
The tray of rosemary shortbread is the third one I’ve made over the holidays. Each time, I’ve tweaked the process and this batch is the result of a few lessons learned.
I followed Melissa Clark’s recipe from the NYTimes. She suggests adding all kinds of things to it like raisins or nuts, etc. But what I was hoping for was a classic shortbread the way the Scots and British like it – but flavored with fresh rosemary leaves.
The first time I made it, I didn’t run my Cuisinart food processor long enough for the dough to come together. Instead, it looked like crumbly bits of pie crust and I pressed it into a baking pan. It was so loose you couldn’t prick it with a fork before baking. So, I did the fork pricks at the end. It’s also important to cut the shortbread once it cools a bit, but not until it’s cold – very hard to cut at that point.
The second time I made it, the “dough” improved a little. Today, when I made it for the third time, I observed that instead of scraping into the flour bag for a cup of flour, that I loosened it up first, then I gently piled it into the cup. Turns out, compacting flour or letting it lie loose in a measuring cup makes a notable difference in the amount of flour you (think) you’re using. Hence, too much flour doesn’t combine with the butter/sugar mixture – it stays crumbly. I’ve also noticed this flour measurement phenomenom when making chocolate chip cookies (they cake up instead of flattening out with the brown sugar) and brownies too.
Sure enough this time, the mixture consolidated into a dough-like ball after processing. I pressed it into an 8 X 8 pan with my fingers and baked it at 340 (slightly lower to accommodate the dark finish of the pan) for about 45 minutes. When it turned golden brown on the top, I took it out, pricked it with a fork – and cut it into squares before it cooled completely.
It’s a tender, tasty shortbread to make and goes well with hot tea or coffee.
Hope you will enjoy them – and treat yourselves and family to these sweet, savory treats.
Happy New Year!