A few weeks ago after a trip to the picturesque sea side town North Berwick with my Mum, I got experimenting with shortbread recipes in the kitchen and I posted a cashew and hazelnut shortbread recipe. I had never really made much shortbread before. I was impressed how quick and easy it was. After the cashew and hazelnut, I started experimenting with different flavours and came up with these rosemary shortbread. They are incredibly light and crumbly. The rosemary isn’t overpowering as it’s tempered by the black pepper, sugar and salt, creating a warm gentle flavour. My taste team confessed they weren’t rosemary fans normally but enjoyed these shortbread a lot. I struggle to decide which shortbread I prefer, the cashew and hazelnut or the rosemary.
Making up the latest batch turned into a bit of a performance. I took some rosemary shortbread dough out of the freezer that I had made previously to roll out. Don’t do this, the rosemary had turned black in the freezer and lost it’s flavour. That dough went into the bin, or rather the food recycling bin. The next batch of shortbread came out of the oven the colour of treacle biscuits, not creamy shortbread. I had set the oven to the right temperature but forgotten to check the thermometer inside the oven. I can never trust my old oven’s settings. Inside the oven it was 20° too high and I was left with burnt shortbread.Now I had run out of fresh rosemary. I remembered that some weeks ago at a house with beautiful vegetables being grown in the front garden, there was a box of rosemary and sage tied to the gate with a note suggesting to help yourself. I popped my little one into the buggy and off we went. The box wasn’t there, but a man was tending to the vegetables in the garden. I told him I had seen the box and asked if he still had any excess rosemary? He kindly cut me some from a small plant, it was wonderfully fresh and young.I thanked him and as we walked home I smiled, feeling lucky to live with neighbours who were happy to donate herbs to perfect strangers. Back home it was time for little ones nap, so I put him down and got back to the kitchen to get the third batch of shortbread in the oven. This time it all went well, the rosemary was perfect, the oven the right temperature and out came creamy shortbread with lightly browned edges.
In case you want to experiment with different flavourings for your shortbread my rule of thumb for ingredients is:
2oz/50g caster sugar
3oz/85g flour or ground nuts – I like to use half flour and half ground nuts
Caster sugar for rolling out the shortbread and sprinkling on top once they are cooked Additional flavourings – I’ve put rosemary and freshly ground peppers in the final recipe below, but you could add spices, nuts, chocolate, zest or other herbs.
Rosemary shortbread recipe:
2oz/50g caster sugar
1½oz/40g plain flour
1½oz/40g ground almonds
½ tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
A large pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper
Makes 12 shortbread
Carbohydrate per shortbread – 8g
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F / Gas mark 4.
2. Soften the butter in a medium mixing bowl with the back of a wooden spoon.
3. Beat in the caster sugar.
4. Sift the flour into the mixing bowl. Add the ground almond, the salt and four good grinds of pepper.
5. Dust a board with caster sugar.
6. Pick the dough up with your hands bringing it together into a lump. On the board roll it out to a thickness of 6mm/1/4″.
7. Using a 48 mm / 1 7/8 ” cutter cut out discs of dough.
8. Lay the discs on a baking sheet. They will expand during cooking so space them out.
9. Put into the preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes until lightly browned just around the edges.
10. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar. Leave to cool a little and harden on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Continue cooling on a cooling rack and then store in an air tight container. They will last in the container for three to four days.
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