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Citrus Basil Shortbread Cookies

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Citrus Basil Shortbread Cookies


There is really nothing better than homegrown produce, fresh from the garden in the summertime.  Beautiful tomatoes, bushels of zucchini, peapods straight from the vine…I love it all.  The problem lies in that I have the worst luck EVER when it comes to gardening.   I’ve tried, and failed, more times than I can count.  This is the first year that I don’t have tomato plants going.  I finally gave up.  Every year, Aaron shakes his head at me as I plant a couple of tomato plants, knowing full well that nothing will become of them.  He’s right.  Nothing ever does.  The one year I thought I’d actually get something edible from my tomato plants, it turned out that I had some sort of bug living  on the plants that leaves the shell of the tomato, but eats the insides completely clean.  Imagine my dismay when I went to pick, what looked like, a perfect tomato from my vine and it popped in my hand like a balloon.

I can grow one thing, though.  Basil.  I didn’t give up on my basil plant this year, and it’s already going crazy.  Thank God!  I’m not useless!

I love my basil plant and I shower my family with basil filled recipes all summer long.  Last year, I posted our favorite pesto recipe (click here).  Today, I’m going to post a cookie recipe.  Yes, that’s right.  A cookie recipe…using basil.

I’ve always loved lemon and basil together in pastas and marinades, so when I came across this shortbread cookie recipe, I was intrigued.  I figured the recipe was easy enough, and made such a reasonable amount (just 16-18 cookies), that even if I baked them up and we didn’t like them, it was no big deal.  Thankfully, we did like them, so it all worked out!

I started by zesting a lemon and a lime with my Microplane.  I only needed a teaspoon of lemon zest and a half of a teaspoon of the lime zest, so that didn’t take long at all.

Then, I juiced my lemon and chopped up a bit of that fresh basil I’d gathered from the amazing, wonderful little plant that I can actually grow well.

Once all of that was ready, every ingredient went right into the food processor.

This is the perfect quick and easy cookie.  You don’t even need to soften the butter!  Much like a perfect pie crust, a good flaky shortbread comes from little pockets of chilled butter.

As an aside, you’ll notice that there’s a piece of plastic wrap on the top of my food processor bowl.  Unless I’m feeding something through the feed tube on the lid, I’ll often put a piece of plastic wrap over the top before I attach the lid to the bowl.  That way, it’s one less piece that I have to clean.

I pulsed the ingredients in the bowl for about a minute, until the mixture was nice and moist and started to clump together.

Now it was ready to spoon out on the cookie sheets.  I measured out tablespoons of the dough, rolled them into balls, and put them onto my cookie sheets that I’d lined with parchment paper.  Then, I dipped the bottom of a glass in some powdered sugar and pressed each ball down into a 2-inch round.

The powdered sugar on the glass was supposed to keep the cookies from sticking to the bottom, but they still stuck.  They were easy to peel off, though.

I sprinkled them with a little coarse sugar, and popped them into the oven.  The recipe I had said to bake them for twenty minutes!  That seemed like an awfully long time for these little cookies, so I started with eight minutes. Eight to nine minutes was perfect.

I’ll admit, as they were baking, the aroma that filled my kitchen was as intriguing as the recipe.  I could smell the butter, the lemon, the lime, and then all of a sudden, I’d smell something reminiscent of lasagna.  To be honest, I was a little worried.

My worries were quickly pushed aside once they came out of the oven, though.  I let them cool for a bit and tried one.  They were flaky, and light, and if you held one up to your nose, you’d instantly smell the basil over everything else.  When you take a bite, though, all of the flavors work so well together.  It’s not savory like a cheese straw, or too sweet like other cookies.  It was buttery, and tangy, and tasted like summer.

My husband and I agreed that these would be the perfect cookies for a tea or maybe to serve alongside  a cheese plate.  They are really different, but delicious. When your basil plant goes crazy this summer, give them a try!


Adapted from Epicurious

Citrus Basil Shortbread Cookies
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Adapted from Epicurious
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 16
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for pressing the cookies
  • 1 stick chilled butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375*.
  2. Place the flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, butter cubes, basil, lemon and lime zest, lemon juice, and salt into a food processor. Pulse until large, moist clumps form.
  3. Measure out tablespoons of the dough and roll into balls. Place the balls on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, spaced 2″ apart.
  4. Lightly dust the bottom of a drinking glass with powdered sugar and lightly press the dough balls into 2″ rounds, dusting the cup as needed. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with coarse sugar, if desired.
  5. Bake until the edges are brown, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
  6. Makes 16-18 cookies
  7. ENJOY!

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