Reprinted from Flour by Joanne Chang with permission by Chronicle Books, 2019
Crumbly and delicate, these shortbread cookies are infused with subtle rosemary flavor. They are stealth cookies: They don’t look like much, they don’t sound fancy shmancy, and you probably don’t expect them to become your new favorite cookie. But they will sneak up on you. I find that after I eat one, I keep going back again and again to have “just another bite,” and before I know it, I’ve eaten three or four. They melt in your mouth, and they are especially appealing served with espresso after an Italian dinner. They are also nice to have on hand unbaked in the freezer for when guests drop by unexpectedly. -Joanne Chang
MAKES 12 TO 15 COOKIES
1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (110 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
11/2 cups (210 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer or a wooden spoon), cream the butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and pale. (This step will take 3 to 4 minutes if using a handheld mixer and about 5 minutes if using a spoon.) Add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar. On low speed, add the egg yolk and rosemary and beat for about 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed. Stop the mixer several times to scrape the bowl and the paddle to free any trapped flour mixture.
Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap the dough in the plastic wrap, pressing down to form a disk about 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Refrigerate the dough for about 20 minutes, or until it is firm enough to roll out.
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 by 10 inches and 1⁄4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 to 15 uniform pieces—rectangles, triangles, or cookie- cutter shapes—and arrange them on a baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. (At this point, the cookies can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Bake as directed directly from the freezer. You may need to add a few minutes to the baking time.)
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are medium golden brown all the way through. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
When I chop fresh rosemary, I use a trick I picked up from the savory side of the kitchen. I add a teaspoon of sugar to the rosemary leaves , which helps me chop them finer and prevents them from sticking to the knife. -Joanne Chang