Is there anything more wonderful than the smell of fresh herbs combined with the satisfaction of knowing you have not (yet) killed your plants? Though it is only a matter of time before this rosemary bites the dust, I anticipate that for the next 8 months I will happily be trimming sprigs off of my little rosemary, basil, oregano, and mint plants. That is, before I commit herbicide.

Side note: anyone out there reading this with any tips for growing rosemary bushes well, I could really use some advice. If you have any sympathy for my poor plants, please leave your advice in the comments! Only you can prevent herbicide.

Herbs that Westerners are used to are not widely available in Shanghai. Though the woman at Wulumuqi Lu carries wonderful herbs for very reasonable prices (I swear I don’t work for her, she’s just amazing), for two growing seasons now, I’ve been opting to go to the flower market. There is a man on the bottom floor who sells herbs in little pots that you can take home and either nurture or kill slowly, depending on the color of your thumbs.

But I fear I have been limiting my poor rosemary. I have relegated it to main courses and have long typecast it to play a supporting role for featured stars lamb and beef. But Rosemary dreams of being the sweet leading lady.

It’s time for Rosemary to star in her own indie role. She is breaking out of her shell and doing something her agent was wary of. Dear audience, may I present a perfect tea time treat, staring Rosemary! She’s sweet, she’s tart, and she’s front and center in a modern day classic. And audience, she has been getting rave reviews. Standing ovations even. So give her a chance ladies and gents.

In this recipe, I’ve called for an orange blossom honey, because I think it plays up the flavor of the lemon nicely. However, the original recipe called for a more mild honey. Use the type of honey that most appeals to you.

Rosemary, Lemon and Honey Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2002 via Epicurious

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons mild honey
1 teaspoon orange blossom honey
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and rosemary in a bowl.

3. Mix together butter, honey, lemon zest and confectioners sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at low speed. To me, this step started to resemble the beginning stages of a butter cream icing. Don’t whip it, but instead stop mixing when it is just incorporated.

4. Add dry mixture and mix until dough has pea sized lumps of the butter mixture. Don’t over mix. With cold hands and working quickly, gather dough into a ball and transfer to a piece of plastic wrap. Again, working quickly with cold hands, roll it out into a log shape, the diameter of which will end up being the diameter of your cookies.

5. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and give it one last roll to even out any lumps, before transferring it to the freezer to stiffen up enough to cut well. It will take about 10 minutes to chill the dough to the right consistency. Alternately, you could place in the fridge for about 24 hours.

6. When you’re ready to bake, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and slice the log of dough to your desired thickness. I slice mine to about half a centimeter thick. If they are all roughly the same size, they will all bake up at roughly the same time – something to think about as you slice. Sprinkle granulated sugar across the tops of your cookies, pressing in slightly.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottoms. Remove to a rack to cool, and finish up with any remaining dough.

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