We are deep in the thick of things now. Christmas is next week. Gah! Right now, I’m staring at a pile of presents that somehow have to wrapped and shipped very very soon. I spent 6 hours this weekend packing up 58 cookie boxes to gift to friends and family. It is the single most despised thing I do over the holiday season, but it has to be done. Where are those Keebler elves when you really need them? Slackers. Additionally, I still have a few Christmas parties on the horizon that need hostess gifts. Bet you can guess what those will be. Cookies! As I put together my latest assortment, pulled from these 12 Days of Cookie doughs I have stashed in the freezer (a godsend if every there was one) I give thanks to another holiday classic: shortbread. How can you have a holiday cookie platter without a shortbread type of thing? You cannot.
Shortbread has so many qualities that make it great choice this time of year. Let me list them off for you, to quell any lingering doubts. One. You can flavor it a myriad of ways – traditional, sweet or even savory versions, which make fabulous cocktail snacks. Just ask cookbook author Dorie Greenspan. I like recipes with variations and options. Two. They are really easy. No fussy rolling or cutting or shaping. Press the dough into a pan and call it a day. Three. Everyone loves shortbread. How can you beat that? Four. Most importantly, this basic butter cookie dough works really well for shortbread. So friends, today we’re doing a delightful Rosemary Apricot Shortbread.
The starting point of everything this month is the basic butter cookie dough, and a little extra sugar in the dough gives it that distinctive crisp shortbread texture but this one is a bit different. I like to mix things up so there’s the tang from bits of dried apricot and a really interesting, slightly herbal note from fresh rosemary that pushes it just a little to the savory side. It is most definitely a sweet cookie but an interesting one. Why not push it just a little?
Press the dough into a pan, sprinkle it with some sugar and bake until just lightly golden brown. Watch this one; overbake and the cookies are unpleasantly crumbly. Remove the pan from the oven when it’s lightly golden brown and just set at the edges. Then it will be perfect.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: SOPHISTICATED EASE. This is another one of those workhorses. Pan cookies often are – very little effort for the big payoff. They’re the cool chick of the bunch – low maintenance and incredibly interesting. They also have an edge of sophistication to them; the rosemary makes them just unusual enough to set them apart from your standard holiday cookie. So very nice.
12 Days of Cookies Recap:
Cookie Prep – Basic Butter Cookie Dough
Day 1 – Jam Thumbprints
Day 2 – Mexican Chocolate Crinkles
Day 3 – Butter Rum Bars
Day 4 – Cranberry Pistachio Coins
Day 5 – Candied Ginger Spice Buttons
Day 6- Russian Teacakes
2015 12 Days of Cookies: Pretzel Caramel Shortbread, Fig Mezzaluna, Dutch Windmills, Bourbon Peach Rugelah, Chai Spiced Meringue Kisses, Almond Joy Bars, Swedish Kringla, Chile Lime Macaroons, Orange Cranberry Cornmeal Shortbread, Eggnog Buttons, Ginger Palmiers, Rainbow Cookies
seven years ago: Pumpkin Bundt Cake, Adventures in India
six years ago: Bacon Cheddar Gougeres, Gingerbread with the Kids
five years ago: Southern Cheese Straws, Cookbook Gift List, Homemade for the Holidays
four years ago: Lemon Slice Cookies (a project if ever there was one)
three years ago: Pumpkin Spice Granola
two years ago: Cider Apple Pie
last year: Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale & Potato Soup)
ROSEMARY APRICOT SHORTBREAD
Makes 18 1”x2” cookies
¼ batch basic butter cookie dough, room temperature
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons sugar, for the top
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and line the bottom of an 8”x8” pan with parchment paper (this makes it much easier to get the damn things out of the pan. Don’t skip this step. If you don’t have parchment, use foil but not wax paper.)
- In a standing mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, combine room temperature cookie dough, 2 Tablespoons sugar, chopped apricots, rosemary and salt on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
- Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top. (The easiest way to do this is to put a scrap piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and smooth with your fingers.)
- With a sharp paring knife, score the dough into small rectangles or squares.
- Sprinkle the top evenly with the sugar and prick each piece with a fork.
- Bake the shortbread in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges and just set. Do not overbake
- Rescore the pan with a sharp paring knife as soon as the pan comes out of the oven.
- Let cool for 10 minutes.
- Invert the pan onto a cutting board, remove the parchment paper and recut into neat pieces with a sharp knife.
- Shortbread cookies keep pretty well at room temperature for several days if tightly wrapped. If you want to make ahead, press the dough into the pan, score as directed above, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months. Sprinkle with sugar and bake directly from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the overall baking time.