Christmas Cookies: Chamomile Shortbread

I'll be the first to admit that these are not a treasured family secret. I saw this recipe in Saveur and my mouth watered. Alt-grains, tea, and butter? SIGN ME UP.

I think shortbread are a perfect Christmas cookie. Sometimes we get caught up with our sprinkles and icing around this time of year, so shorbread can be a respite on the cookie platter due to their simplicity. I should warn you, these cookies are a bit more complex than the old standard and may steal the show (my co-workers were fans!).

Chamomile Shortbread

Pairs perfectly with a cup of tea! No joke.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup + 2 tbs butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers (you want the whole flower, not just the grounds that end up in a lot of standard tea bags)
  • 1 3/4 cup kamut flour*
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

*You could probably substitute all-purpose flour here, but your end result will not be as tender or crumbly as this recipe. Adjust at your own risk.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small pan over medium to low heat. Do not let brown. Add the chamomile flowers to the butter and let steep off the heat for 30 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the kamut flour, all purpose flour, and cornstarch. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9x13 baking sheet (preferably with a rim!) with parchment paper.

Add the remaining butter to a large mixing bowl with the salt. Reheat your butter in a pan until it liquifies once more and strain through a fine mesh sieve into the mixing bowl. Save the butter-soaked chamomile flowers. Using an electric mixer or a heck of a lot of elbow grease, beat your butter and salt to a light and fluffy consistency. Add the lemon zest, 1/4 cup sugar, and they honey. Beat to combine. Throw your dry ingredients and the remaining chamomile flowers into the bowl. Beat with the mixer and scrape down the sides until just combined. Towards the end switch to a spatula so you don't overwork your dough. You'll end up with a dough the texture of damp sand. It should clump together if you squeeze it in your hand.

Dump the dough onto your parchment lined baking sheet. Take a piece of wax on top of the dough and work with your hands or a clean spatula/utensil to flatten out and evenly distribute the dough across the baking sheet. Pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. I rotated my baking sheet about 10 minutes through because I know my oven has hot spots. 

Pull out of oven and let cool for a hot second. Dust with the remaining 2 tbs sugar across the top and next you'll want to score the cookies while they're still warm so they wont' break when you properly cut them later. I cut mine into 1 in x 2 in rectangles, but any shape will do. (For those unfamiliar with the term, scoring is basically pre-cutting. You don't want to CUT the cookie to the bottom of the pan. Rather, your knife should go about half way through.)

After scoring, let your cookies completely cool. I helped the process along by sticking them outside in the cold. A refrigerator would also do the trick. After about an hour you can really cut apart and serve the cookies. I'm a big fan of these with this Harney & Sons rooibos tea!

Makes a buttload (approximately 5 dozen). Store in an airtight container. Enjoy within a week or freeze for longer.