Several weeks ago, Amanda and I received a delicious assortment of goodies from Maggie Battista (alias eatboutique) that included an addictive sweet and savory shortbread with herbs in it. Neither of us could get enough of the buttery, fragrant cookies -- we had to ration out the package so that we wouldn’t eat it all at once.
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Then a week or two later, I was at my friend Sara's for dinner, and she set out a little plate of homemade sage shortbread rounds for dessert. Inspired by this coincidence, I decided to include my own version of Sara's crumbly, sage-infused treats in a column on Summer Berry Desserts I was working on for the Boston-based magazine The Herb Quarterly.
Below is an adapted recipe that calls for the addition of any fresh herb of your choosing. I'd probably recommend using hardier varieties like sage, rosemary and thyme over herbs like tarragon or basil that bruise easily. But why not experiment? If you find a winning combination, please let me know in the comments section below.
1. Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 350 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, use your fingers to gently rub together 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the chopped herbs (this will help release the oils). Whisk this mixture into the flour.
2. Cut up the butter into chunks and add it to the flour, stirring with a fork to make a soft dough. Gently pat the dough into a 9-inch round or square baking pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar evenly over the dough.
3. Bake the shortbread for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and no longer looks at all wet. Using a very sharp knife, score into fingers, squares or wedges while it is still quite warm, and let it cool completely in the pan before separating the pieces.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).