Monday, December 12, 2011
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap was a huge success in my book. I was very pleased with my creation and even more important, I got to eat amazing cookies from California, Maryland, and Minnesota. I can't tell you how excited I was to check the mailbox for the last week. I was so sad when my final dozen arrived, but elated that my last batch was inspired by one of my favorites...Heidi Swanson (www.101cookbooks.com)
I was happy to send my rosemary shortbread out to:
Laura from http://www.sprint2thetable.com
Naomi from http://www.bakersroyale.com
Kim from http://www.kideats.co
It was such a coincidence that my Minnesota arrival was inspired by Heidi Swanson, since my cookie idea stemmed from my love of Heidi's recipe for Brown Sugar Rosemary Walnuts. I made the candied walnuts earlier this fall and wanted to incorporate elements of the recipe into my cookie swap idea. I adore shortbread and thought it would travel and keep well, thus rosemary shortbread with candied walnuts.
Start with the walnuts...
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons sea salt
2 large egg whites
4 cups (1 pound) shelled walnut halves
Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. You want the parchment paper - this is a sticky situation when these come out of the oven.
Mix the sugar and salt in a small bowl. Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk the egg whites to break them up. Pour the walnuts into the egg whites and mix until the walnuts are coated. Pour the sugar & salt mixture into the walnuts and toss until the nuts are covered.
Spread the nuts over the two sheets in a single layer. Bake for 25 minutes or until the walnuts are golden. Let the sheets cool for a couple minutes before moving the parchment paper to a cooling rack. Let the nuts cool while you make the shortbread dough.
Now for the shortbread...
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
The oven will stay at 300 degrees F (hopefully you didn't turn it off).
Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and rosemary in a medium bowl.
Mix the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer at low speed, then add flour mixture and mix until dough resembles coarse meal. Gather dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until it just comes together, about 8 times. Halve dough and form each half into a 5-inch disk.
Roll out 1 disk (keep remaining dough at room temperature) between 2 sheets of parchment or with a lightly floured rolling pin. If you used parchment, take off the top layer and use a biscuit or round cookie cutter to make rounds out of the dough. I didn't have my biscuit or cookie cutters handy, so I used a glass (which I also floured). Depending on the size rounds, this recipe will make close to two dozen cookies. After you transfer the rounds to your cookie sheet, place a walnut or walnut cluster in the center of each shortbread. Press down lightly.
Bake the cookies until they are golden brown, 20 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a rack and cool 5 minutes.
Package with rosemary sprigs when sharing with someone special...And yes, those are crumbs in the picture. I was sampling while packaging. I had to make sure they were up to par in order to share.
Recipe inspired by:
"Brown Sugar & Rosemary Walnuts" by Heidi Swanson, 2011
Rosemary Shortbread by Gourmet, 2002