I came across this recipe on 101cookbooks and knew that this was the only cookie I’d be making this holiday season. With all the construction and moving, I didn’t have time to put up lights or decorate a tree. All in all, it’s been very scrooge-like at my house. But these cookies just begged for me to make them and I needed something for dessert when my family came over for early Christmas (because we’ll be in Michigan for actual Christmas). I’d never made shortbread before, and it may be awhile before I’m brave enough to make it again. It’s a pain. You have to refrigerate the dough. You have to roll it. You have to take a cookie cutter to it. Like I said, a pain.
But the results were tasty enough, and I served the cookies with a pretty little ball of vanilla ice cream. After all, it’s not Christmas if there’s no ice cream according to Tom.
Pine Nut Rosemary Shortbread
2 cups white whole-wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
scant teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (natural cane) sugar
zest of one lemon
2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and loosely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Combine flour and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
In a separate large bowl or stand mixer cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and lemon zest and mix again, then add the flour mixture, nuts, and rosemary and mix until the dough goes just past the crumbly stage, and begins to really clump together (you don’t want to over mix it, but under mixing will make the dough seem a bit dry, which can make it more difficult to handle). Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough just once or twice to bring it together, then divide it into a ball and flatten into a disk 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper of a Silpat mat. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into whatever shapes you desire, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sometimes I chill the dough in the freezer for another 10 minutes, it seems to help the cookies hold their shape – but you don’t have to. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies are beginning to brown on the bottom. The baking time will vary depending on the size of the cookies, taking less time for smaller cookies.
Makes about 2 dozen small cookies.
Variation: use chopped raw or toasted walnuts and 1 tablespoon coarsely ground coffee in place of the lemon, pine nuts, and rosemary.