One of my favorite cookies that show up at our holiday cookie exchange is a creative combination of lemon and rosemary in a shortbread. A former coworker of mine brings these cookies and I usually get to go home with all the extras. We both love them, but others seem to be resistant to the savory herb flavor in something that is supposed to be strictly sweet.
It is surprising how delicious the rosemary tastes in the cookies. It isn’t an overwhelming flavor, but more of a crisp, refreshing background to the sweet lemon shortbread. I’ve been meaning to make these cookies for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it.
All that time thinking about them has given me the opportunity to get creative. First, let’s talk about the jam.
I’ve wanted to try some jam with alternative sweeteners all summer, but I’ve been afraid of ruining all that wonderful fresh fruit if it didn’t turn out well. When I came across Stone Fruit Preserves from The Cilantropist, I finally decided to give it a try. The recipe already had honey in it so I added demerara sugar instead of white sugar.
I also cooked it according to other jam recipes I’ve used, boiling it hard for about 15 minutes. I canned the majority of it and left about a ¼ cup as refrigerator jam which I used in the cookies.
For the cookies, I decided to try out some brown rice flour which I have never baked with before. I really like the texture it gave to the cookies. They have almost a cornmeal-like feel in the mouth. I wouldn’t go overboard with it though. A little adds nice texture, but too much makes them gritty.
The rosemary adds that same refreshing flavor as the cookies I enjoy from our holiday party. Despite the fact that there is rosemary, lemon and peach going on here it all blends nicely for one delicious thumbprint cookie. Feel free to substitute any type of jam. I think a lemon curd would be tasty with them, too.
Lemon Rosemary Thumbprints with Peach Jam
Makes: About 18 cookies
2 lb. peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 cup demerara sugar
¼ cup local honey
Juice of ½ a lemon
Combine all ingredients in a heavy soup pot. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes. You can check to make sure the jam has set up by spooning some on a plate and putting it in the freezer for a couple minutes. If it is thick and spreadable when you get it out, it is ready. Process as you would any jam if you choose to can it, otherwise, place it in a sealable container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Makes about 4 cups.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup demerara sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown rice flour
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon fine ground sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ tablepsoon fresh rosemary, chopped
In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium to medium-high for about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla. Slowly mix in the flours, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest. Finally, mix in the rosemary. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll the dough into about 1 inch balls, maybe just a little larger. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies slightly and make a small indentation in the center with your thumb. Fill the spot with about 1/8 to ¼ tsp of jam. Be carefully not to fill the space too full or it will bake out of the cookie.
Bake for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are firm and slightly browned. Let cool on the baking pan for about 2 minutes and carefully transfer to a cooling rack to allow the jam to set before serving.