lemon, rosemary & pine nut shortbread

I bet you’re thinking that’s a slightly weird flavour combination right there, especially for a sweet bakery item. I know that was my first reaction when I came across this recipe years ago. And then I thought about it for just a little bit longer. And then I made the shortbread, and I was hooked. Actually I can’t believe I’ve never written about this recipe before! It’s delicious, smells amazing, and also isn’t overpoweringly sugary – something about those flavours make this biscuit sweetly savoury, and when you use salted butter instead of unsalted it’s even better.

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It was so long ago that I first made these that I can’t even remember where the recipe first came from. I have written about my go-to shortbread recipe before, and this is where it started although the flavour combination can change, but I’ve made a few tweaks over the years. It’s an easy one (I like easy) and you can make the dough ahead of time to bake it when you need it (also useful if you’ve got a lot of things going on at once).

When you roll and cut the biscuit dough you can make it whatever size or thickness that you like, but you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly to suit. A minute or two either way is all it will need.

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250g soft butter
2/3 cup icing sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
2 cups plain flour (you may need a little extra depending on the dough consistency)

Cream the butter and sugar, add the lemon zest and rosemary and beat well. Add the sifted flour and the nuts, and mix until the dough clumps together. Turn out onto a clean benchtop and knead briefly until the dough comes together and is smooth – you will need to work fairly quickly otherwise the dough gets too soft. 

Roll the dough into logs, wrap in glad wrap and refrigerate until firm (an hour or two should do it, but you could make this dough a day or two ahead if you wanted). 

Slice the logs into biscuits, about 7-8mm thick, and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 10 minutes. They should be just starting to go golden around the edges, and they will burn quickly so keep an eye on them. They do spread slightly on the tray, but not a lot.

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Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.

Rosewater and Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

These shortbread cookies are so easy to make, and really they can be adapted to suit any range of flavours. I’ve made them flavoured with just with a heap of mixed spices (which smells amazing) and also with glacé cherries and toasted slivered almonds. Also, unlike many shortbread recipes, there is no call for rice flour – this makes them so much easier to just whip up with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

They are easy to make, and the recipe makes quite a few – it all depends how thick you roll and cut the cookies. I packaged them up into some pretty glass jars and gave them as Christmas gifts this year!

2 ¼  cups plain flour
250g butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon rosewater essence
2/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

Sift flour into a large bowl.  Cream butter, add rosewater essence and sugar, beat well. Add flour and nuts, mix until dough clumps together.  Turn out onto clean benchtop and knead until smooth and the dough all comes together.  Roll into logs, wrap in glad wrap, refrigerate until firm enough to slice (about an hour should do, but overnight is fine as well if you want to make the dough in advance).

Slice logs, bake 10-15 minutes at 180C. The time will depend on how thick you slice the cookies, the thicker your cookies the longer they will take to cook. Watch them carefully after 10 minutes – they should be starting to turn just golden around the edges when they’re ready, but they’ll go brown and taste burnt very quickly after that.

Cool them on wire racks, then store in an airtight container – they’ll keep for a couple of weeks (if they don’t get eaten first!).