Cookie Party: Volume 7

Monday, June 20, 2016
I don't know what it is about cookies that brings out the mad scientist in me. When it comes to savory dishes, I'll tinker with recipes, but mostly do so in an attempt to refine a dish to its best classical form. When it comes to cookies, though, I'm apparently happiest when the result is monumentally weird. My radar went off when a friend of mine posted a lovely shot of some shortbread cookies she'd recently made, and when I saw that they incorporated fresh basil into the dough, I knew I'd have to give them a whirl.

Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies
An English Garden in Every Bite

It's the perfect season to try these out. Lemon and basil are so refreshing in the June heat, and while shortbread can tend to be overly dry, summer refrigerators are usually stocked with cool drinks. This recipe requires a lot of butter, but aside from the lemon and basil, none of the ingredients are different from any other standard shortbread.

I used my mixer to cream the butter with powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and the basil, then mixed in some flour and salt. This was the point where I reached the biggest challenge of the process. The recipe asks that you take the resultant sticky dough, separate it into two balls, then roll them out to a quarter-inch thickness and cut shapes. My dough was far too soft to even consider rolling, let alone cutting shapes. Anything I cut would immediately fall apart, as the softened butter made the dough too pliable to work with. I wound up just tearing off balls of dough to flatten into circles with my palm.

I'm not sure how I'll correct for this issue next time. I could either add more flour to make the dough stiffer, or perhaps try chilling the dough for a while to firm it up. I believe I'll try the latter, since excessive flour can make the cookies dry and impairs the flavor. While the cookies baked, I whipped up the glaze, which consists of powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice. I should have seen the next problem coming, since I was baking more cookies than the recipe stated would result. I didn't have enough glaze to cover all the cookies, and for the ones that did get glaze, some of them got short shrift.

Still, I was pretty happy with the flavor. As with most of my odd cookie creations, the response I got from other people was decidedly one of confusion. I'm not sure these were entirely successful, because the black pepper/cumin cookies are far stranger than these, but got a better reception from the people I gave them to. I liked them, though, and I think that with some tweaks, I can turn out a better batch next time. Maybe I'll even get to finally use the alphabet cookie cutters I've been itching to try out.