I like to think that summer in sunny California is pretty swell. It doesn't get humid, it doesn't rain, and it's perfect beach weather all the time. However, by the time mid-July rolls around, something happens to the weather that can make everything come to a halt. That pleasantly dry summer heat seems more like a burning, oppressive blanket eager to suck every ounce of sweat and productivity out of any individual stupid enough to step foot outside.
So I lock myself in the house for the majority of the day during this time of the year. I crank up the air-con, close all the curtains, and try not to move. Year after year this method of hibernation works out pretty well, and I end up watching a handful of movies that I would never have gotten around to viewing at any other time of the year. This year, however, with this whole epic cookie project underway, baking seems completely and utterly unfeasible, despite my intense desires to press on onto new recipes. The mere thought of heating up my kitchen one degree hotter than it already is makes me begin to perspire already.
But I had to. I had to bake--no choice! It was my friend's birthday party last night and I promised to bring these Rosemary Butter Cookies to the party! What could I do? Baking them outside on the concrete was a possibility, but altogether too unsanitary (hello spiders!). I thought long and hard and decided to assemble the dough late at night and try to bake the cookies early in the morning. It was the best I could do.
Now, on to the recipe itself. Everything is very standard for a slice-n-cut butter cookie: meaning, 2 sticks of butter, some sugar, flour, vanilla, you know the drill. Then you add a whole tablespoon of fresh rosemary for the flavor. I strongly advise you to use fresh rosemary, because it's far, far better and you can't simply substitute the dried stuff. Dried rosemary is much more potent and powerful, so if you insist on using it, only use 3/4 teaspoon!! Not a whole tablespoon. It should still taste the same, but still, I'd go with the real stuff--but maybe that's just because we have a rosemary bush in my backyard that the size of an elephant.
I did run into a minor issue, mind you. Martha has you add 2 1/2 cups sifted flour, meaning you sift the flour and then measure the correct amount. Sift, then measure, remember! I sifted it a few too many times though, and therefore didn't add enough flour and the dough was way too wet, so I continued to add a little bit of sifted flour here and there until the dough was workable (it baked up fine in the end). Then you divide the dough into 2, roll into logs, freeze.
The next morning, I only had to brush the logs with egg whites and roll them in the fine sanding sugar before slicing and baking them. I, for some reason, chose to use baker's sugar instead of sanding sugar--BIG MISTAKE! Well, nothing epic, but baker's sugar is too fine and melts when you bake it. Thus, the sugar on the edges wasn't adhered to the cookie very well, and would fall off very easily when handled. Oh well, tasted great anyways! A very delicious cookie no doubt, and my friends loved it. A "garden cookie" as they put it; one that would be perfect for tea parties on the terrace, if that's your style.
Now, if you are up for heating up your kitchen, or you live in the southern hemisphere, bake these! They are so fun and unusual and fancy! Crunchy and subtle! Pretty and dainty! Not too sweet, not too bland! Go! Do it! To stay cool, you could always stay in the freezer with the cookie logs for an hour or so...
Rosemary Butter Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg white, beaten
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 cup fine sanding sugar
- Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in whole egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, rosemary, and salt, and mix until combined.
- Halve dough; shape each half into a log. Place each log on a 12-by-16-inch sheet of parchment. Roll in parchment to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Transfer to paper-towel tubes to hold shape, and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375. Brush each log with egg white; roll in sanding sugar. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.
Baking Difficultly: 3/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 3/5 (Just the fresh rosemary)
Attractiveness: 4/5 (Woulda been prettier if I used the right sanding sugar...)
Is it worth it?: Yeah!
Drink: Earl Grey Tea, over ice and/or a Mint Julep
Song: Scarborough Fair -- Simon and Garfunkel
Activity: Garden cocktail party