Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! In honor of the day, I have a cookie recipe that comes together in no time and is suitable for V-day gift giving.
One of my favorite recipescomes from Jerry Traunfeld’s The Herbfarm Cookbook. You may know Jerry as the chef/owner of Poppy on Capitol Hill but for many years he was the culinary genius behind The Herbfarm. Several years ago my cooking club selected The Herbfarm Cookbook as the theme for a dinner. All recipes for the dinner had to come from the cookbook. I was responsible for dessert so I chose these cookies and paired them with fresh fruit. Since that first time, I’ve used this recipe on several occasions, most recently for a Soup Swap dinner I had at my house on Saturday night.
The recipe calls for lavender but many herbs can be substituted. I’ve used thyme and sage in other versions. Or you could even just leave them plain. The basic recipe instructs you to cut the shortbread into rectangles as you can see here. That is the easiest, quickest, least-wasteful method but you can also cut them into shapes as I’ve done here. The one thing to be careful with when using a cutter is to minimize the rerolling of the scraps, as the dough could become tough if worked too much. So be smart about placing your cutter so that you minimize the amount of scrap.
Cutting into rectangles as the recipe suggests will yield 2 dozen cookies. With this heart cutter (2 1/2″) my yield was about 3 dozen. Since the cookies were smaller the bake time was shorter. I’ve provided both times below. The recipe is after the jump.
adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, chilled and cubed
- 4 tsp fresh lavender buds or 2 tsp dried
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
Fifteen minutes before you begin the dough remove the butter from the refrigerator. Place the lavender buds in a spice mill with 1/4 cup sugar and grind until fine. Alternatively, use a small food processor or mortar and pestle.
Transfer the lavender sugar to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the butter. Beat on low-speed until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps of butter. Add the flour all at once and mix on low-speed just until a cohesive dough is formed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press it into a rectangle with no cracks. Roll into a 12×9 inch rectangle, 1/4″ thick. (If you are using a shaped cutter you may want to roll into a circle or different sized rectangle to help minimize scraps from your first cutting. The important thing is to roll to 1/4″ thick.) Using a straight edge and a pastry wheel or chef’s knife, cut the dough into 3″ x 1 1/2″ bars. Transfer cookies to parchment lined cookie sheets. You may need to use a spatula to move them.
Refrigerate the cookies for 30 minutes to allow the dough to rest.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Move the cookies directly from the refrigerator to the oven. If making the rectangles, bake for 22 to 25 minutes. If making the 2 1/2″ hearts, as shown above, bake for 15 to 17 minutes. The cookies should just be lightly colored with the bottom a shade darker than the top (use a spatula to check).
Allow the cookies to cool on the pan. Store in an airtight container. They will keep at least one week.