Baking & Dessert

By Laura Ratliff and Ryan Smith | September 20, 2011

Photo: Laura Ratliff

Culinary confession time: I really, really dislike shortbread cookies. Even though my mom makes a mean lavender shortbread, I’ve just never understood why people enjoy eating sandy, flavorless, crumbly pucks. I could go on, but I’ll spare you more complaining. I refuse to eat them, so I most definitely refuse to bake them.

That’s why, when I came across a recipe for lemon-lime basil shortbread cookies in the July 2011 issue of Bon Appetit, I was initially disappointed-why ruin three absolutely stunning ingredients by using them in shortbread, of all things?

While I had resigned myself to not making the recipe, the abundance of basil and citrus in our house on a recent weekend revived the recipe from the recesses of my mind. Alas, an egg and a leavening agent later… the result? A cakey, savory cookie with no sign of shortbread-like defects. The citrus was bright and shone perfectly, accented by just a hint of basil, so as not to be overwhelming. I loved that the cookies were dotted with the bright yellow and green flecks from the lime and lemon zest.

This definitely isn’t an overly sweet cookie; so those with a sweet tooth might want to adjust the sugar accordingly. But for a simple teatime snack, it hit the spot.

Photo: Laura Ratliff

Laura Ratliff and Ryan Smith are the authors of Smith & Ratliff, a New York City-based lifestyle blog. They write about food, cocktails, art, style and life in New York City. Follow them on Twitter: @smithratliff.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Turbinado sugar, optional

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter and egg, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until pale and fluffy.

3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

4. Measure tablespoons of dough. Place on a large baking sheet, leaving about 2" between each cookie.

5. Lightly dust the bottom of a drinking glass or flat measuring cup with powdered sugar and gently press each cookie to flatten. Dust the cup with powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking.

6. If you want a sweeter cookie, sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar.

7. Bake until edges are just turning golden, about 7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

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