Sunday, December 24, 2006

Rosemary Lemon ...

This is a cookie conundrum. It's a shaped like a cookie. It's made with butter and sugar and other cookie things. It's lemony to be sure. But rosemary? Yes, rosemary.

I made some as a trial, one of this year's cookie contenders. And I really like them, but not in a cookie kind of way. It's a grown-up cookie, a cookie you'd have with champagne, I'm thinking, not a tall glass of milk. The lemon flavor is very sharp, owing to four tablespoons of lemon juice and the zest of an entire lemon. And the rosemary is unmistakable.

The recipe had a typo in it. When I first read it, I thought, "Ten teaspoons of butter? Huh?" So I tried it with 3 1/3 tablespoons of butter (three teaspoons to a tablespoon, for those scoring at home) and wow, it didn't turn into a workable dough. So I tossed in the rest of the stick and two more tablespoons to boot and voila!, dough that could be chilled then rolled.

I bought fluted oval cutters especially for this cookie. I don't think they're flutey enough, The edge isn't as defined as I'd like it to be. But I like the oval shape in a landscape of round cookies. Always good to get more geometric.

Here, then, the recipe for the oddest cookie on this year's plate.

Rosemary Cookies
(From Complete Baking: Cakes, Puddings, and Pastries, Published by Dempsey Parr, 2000)

10 T. butter, softened
4 T. superfine sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
4 T. lemon juice
1 egg, separated
2 T. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 3/4 C. all-purpose flour, sifted
Superfine sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Lightly grease two baking sheets. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon rind and juice, then the egg yolk and beat until they are thoroughly combined. Stir in the chopped fresh rosemary. Add the sifted flour, mixing well until a soft dough is formed. Wrap and leave to chill for 30 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough thinly and stamp about 25 circles with a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter. Arrange the dough circles on the prepared baking sheets. In a bowl, lightly whisk the egg white. Gently brush the egg white over the surface of each biscuit [the cookbook is British], then sprinkle wiht a little superfine sugar. Bake in a preheated oven, 350 for 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire race and leave to cool before serving.


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