From the Herb Garden to the Cookie Jar

lime-basil-poppyseed-cookiesShortbread may not seem like an obvious summer dessert, but buttery shortbread cookies spiced with citrus and fresh basil are unexpectedly refreshing on a hot summer day. The light, sandy texture typical of shortbread – pecan sandies and other “sand” or “sable” (French for “sand”) cookies are essentially shortbread cookies – means that the tender cookies fall apart in your mouth and melt on your tongue.  That feather-light sensation is an ideal platform for summery flavors like lemon and lime.  The poppyseeds add a contrasting crunch.

If you don’t have basil, fresh mint would work, too, or you could omit the fresh herb.  I’m such a huge basil fan that I leap at any excuse to include fresh basil in my dishes, whether they’re sweet or savory.  Adding some garden-fresh basil my cookie dough was a whimsical idea that proved itself to be a delicious reality – fresh basil has a scent and flavor that dried basil just doesn’t, and that elusive fresh greenness pairs very well with the bold fresh character of the lime juice and lemon zest.  Stay tuned for Lemon-Basil Ice Cream!

Lime, Basil & Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies

1/2 cup brown rice flour*
1 cup sorghum flour*
1/2 cup millet flour*
1/2 tsp. fine-grained sea salt
2 T. poppy seeds
Zest of 1 organic lemon (since you’re using the skin, it’s worth choosing organic)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter, preferably from grass-fed cows (Kerrygold is a great choice), cut into chunks and left to soften at room temperature for 10 minutes
1/2 cup + 1 T. powdered sucanat (I powder mine in a coffee grinder – in about 10 seconds, you’ll have fine powder)
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla
10 large basil leaves, cut into thin strips RIGHT BEFORE you add them to the dough (they’ll begin to darken almost immediately)

Preheat oven to 350F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or grease VERY well – these tender cookies will tear easily if they stick to the pan.

Whisk flours, salt, poppy seeds, zest, and baking powder together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream butter and sucanat with a mixer for 1 minute or until you have a well-blended, creamy mixture. You’ll note that if you use a pastured butter like Kerrygold, the butter will be much softer than conventional butter, even when it’s fresh out of the cold fridge. That’s because there is a lot less saturated fat in butter made from milk given by cows who actually roam around eating grass and exercising. Kerrygold is so nice and soft that you can almost cream it straight out of the fridge; conventional butter sometimes has to sit at room temp for an hour or more before it has softened. (Saturated fat gets very stiff when chilled, and since conventional butter has more saturated fat than grass-fed butter does, conventional butter takes a lot longer to soften.)

Beat in lime juice and vanilla, then gently stir in basil. If you want less-crumbly, more standard-textured cookies, add 2 eggs whites when you add the juice and vanilla.

Use a teaspoon to portion out small bits of dough. Roll each one into a ball about 1″ across and space them out so that you have 16 or 20 cookies per sheet. Press each ball down gently to flatten it. I used the bottom of a small bowl as my press – it left slight round indentations in each cookie, and I liked the textured look. If the dough sticks to whatever you’re using to press your cookies, gently pull the dough free with your fingers, pressing it into place with your hand if necessary. You might also want to refrigerate the dough for about 20 minutes if it starts getting too soft to work with.

Bake 2 cookie sheets at a time for 15 minutes, removing them when the tops of the cookies are starting to turn golden-brown and you can see a slight hint of brown at the base of each cookie (that’s a sign that they’re golden-brown underneath). Yield will be about 4 total sheets or 64 cookies.


* These are gluten-free flours. If you’d prefer to make wheat-based cookies, use a total of 2 cups of any combination of whole-wheat, spelt, or kamut flours.

Courtesy of Cultured Cook.

You may also like:

Delicious Vegan Pear Turnovers

Trekking Along With Trail Mix Cookies

Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies & Whole Wheat Banana Bread

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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