Months ago, I asked my friends for suggestions as to what they would like me to bake next. My friend Eri immediately requested something with rosemary. Being that I have never made anything with rosemary, let alone know much about this particular herb, I immediately took it as a challenge.
I was fairly excited to follow through with this, but when I began looking around for recipes, I couldn’t find anything that I really really wanted to make for Eri. It’s funny that I’m so concerned, since it’s not as if I’m making these for her for any special occasion. But because I’m sentimental, I still wanted to do it right. So I kept looking and looking until I stumbled upon a photo of very simple yet elegant-looking cookies as I browsed through the lovely Martha Stewart’s Cookies cookbook. Then upon reading the introduction to the recipe, I just had to give them a go.
Apparently, rosemaries are a symbol of remembrance, love, and enduring affection, which is why according to Martha, these cookies often make an appearance in Australian and European weddings. It is also quite closely associated with the Virgin Mary (rose of Mary). As simple as these cookies look, I really like what they stood for. Now if only I could find a way to send them to Eri somehow. Or better yet, I hope I can persuade her to make some!
The recipe calls for fresh rosemary and for the life of me, I have no idea where I can get those. But I do have an abundance of the dried stuff, and upon research, I found out that you can generally substitute the fresh herbs called for in a recipe with a third of the amount of the dried version.
In numerical terms, if a recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of fresh rosemary, you can substitute 1/3 Tablespoon (1 teaspoon) of dried rosemary. It also helps to know that when working with dried herbs, you’re supposed to add them in towards the beginning of the cooking process to give them the chance to release their flavours. It’s the opposite for fresh herbs, which are to be added towards the end of cooking to prevent them from browning and losing their flavour.
I’ve never made cookies with any sort of leafy herb before, so I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the taste. That’s one of the main reasons why I chose to make these. I tried only half a recipe, just in case I wouldn’t like how it turns out, but now I regret not making a full batch! The taste is quite rich and savoury, with the unmistakable tinge and fragrance of rosemary, but with a small dose of sweetness that strikes a perfect balance. The cookies themselves are soft and crumbly, like a proper butter cookie ought to be. They are not at all so overly buttery that they would leave a bad oily feeling in your mouth (which I really hate when it comes to store-bought butter cookies).
I would go so far as to saying these are one of my favourite butter cookies. Ever. (From the deepest corner of my heart, I would like to thank Eri for bringing me and this cookie recipe together!)
And they are absolutely easy to make. You can mix the dough by hand, plop onto parchment paper for shaping, then throw in the freezer for an hour. I actually didn’t shape my dough into rounds like Martha did with hers, because at the moment, I don’t have any of the toilet paper tubes that would help retain the round shape of the cookies. So instead, I shaped them into rectangular logs, put them atop my 5-inch baking tray to keep them flat, and I put them in the freezer.
The best part for me was cutting the logs up once they were frozen and seeing those lovely flecks of dried rosemary within. Icebox cookies are always so fun! The dough bakes into these unassuming, golden cookies, especially simple since I did not roll them in sanding sugar as Martha Stewart suggested. But once I had a piece, it was love at first bite! I love them so much in fact that every time I passed the cookie jar I would sneak in and take a cookie.
I’m not that big of a lover of butter cookies to be honest, but I’m not even exaggerating when I say can’t resist these! I have never missed a chance to grab a cookie, and it would seem that other people at home feel the same way, because every time I pass by the cookie jar, it’s a bit more empty than the last time I saw it. I have to say though, that the longer the cookies stay at room temperature, the more savoury they become. And I’m not the only one in the house who has noticed. 🙂
Just so you know:
- When is the best time to make this recipe? If you’re hankering for a butter cookie, or having a tea party some time soon, these would be just perfect!
- Anything special we should know about before attempting this recipe? At the risk of the rosemary flavour becoming overpowering, just remember that if you’re using dried rosemary in place of fresh, reduce the amount stated in the recipe by two-thirds. In this case, the recipe calls for a Tablespoon of fresh rosemary. You may therefore use 1 teaspoon (equivalent to 1/3 Tablespoon) of dried rosemary. Crush the dried herbs a bit with your fingers before throwing into the dough.
- Would I change anything from this recipe? No. Not a thing.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/3 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup fine sanding sugar
- 1. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in whole egg and vanilla.
- 2. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, rosemary, and salt, and mix until combined.
- 3. Halve dough and roughly shape each half into a log. Place each log on a 12-by-16-inch sheet of parchment. Roll in parchment to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Transfer to paper-towel tubes to hold shape, and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
- 4. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Brush each log with egg white and roll in sanding sugar, if using.
- 5. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment.
- 6. Bake until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.
- Storage: The cookies keep at room temperature in an airtight container for about three days, getting just a tad softer with each passing day, but a lot more savoury as well.
I’ve got another rosemary recipe up my sleeve, but I’m still in the process of getting all the ingredients together, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I hope Eri makes these, and loves them as much as I do!