Orange Basil Shortbread

 I feel very strange writing this post, a little like a traitor and mostly like a doofus.

I have to confess that I am not a shortbread lover. I’m not even a shortbread liker. I don’t understand it, I don’t get it, and I rarely eat it. Shortbread just feels so boring. It’s just butter, sugar, and flour. What’s interesting about that?


I have another confession. (I’m on a roll today, people. Don’t hold me back.) I have never liked herbs in desserts. I mean, mint is awesome, obviously. Especially with chocolate. I’m the girl that can eat her weight in York Peppermint Patties and use too much toothpaste on purpose just because it’s kinda like the paste that’s in Jr. Mints so it’s healthy candy. I’m a weirdo, I get it. Back to herbs…

I don’t add Basil or Rosemary or Thyme or even Lavender to my desserts. I have always thought that it made them taste like soap or potpourri or something. I like the idea because it’s so fresh sounding and garden-y to add herbs to your food. I use them abundantly in my savory cooking, there is nothing better. For some reason I never caught the beauty of herbaceous sweets.

So with these two facts rattling about in my brain I somehow came to the conclusion that I needed to make a shortbread so flaky and delicious I couldn’t resist it. In order to do this I would add herbs.

I still don’t know how I came to that conclusion. Somewhere along the way it got a little twisty and before I could talk myself out of it I already had the ingredients in the food processor. I don’t know about you, but my food processor prohibits me from quitting on any kitchen project. First, there are so many parts to clean I can’t dirty an appliance like that and come up with nothing to speak for my sink full of buttery food processor parts. And secondly, it’s so whirly and optimistic that I can’t think about pulling it out, using it, and then giving up. It seems out of character for a food processor.


So anyway, with my small kitchen appliances cheering me on I finished these cookies.

They changed not one, but two preconceived notions that I had so stubbornly held on to for so long. When I bit into one, still warm from the oven, I was surprised. Delightfully and happily surprised. I thought maybe it was that oven freshness that made it so awesome. But I had one four days later and it was just as good.

I sent some in a care package and they arrived perfect, so if a friend is feeling down and needs something flaky, buttery, sweet, and reminds them of spring these are your cookies!


Orange Basil Shortbread
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced finely
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • pinch salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter cut into cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • white sugar for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the flour, butter, basil, orange zest, and juice in a 10 cup food processor. Pulse until a dough forms. Roll into 1 inch balls and press flat with a glass dipped in sugar. Sprinkle with additional sugar if desired. Bake 12 - 15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly and then re locate to a cooling rack.
  2. If desired, you can roll out the dough on a cool surface dusted with flour to ¼ inch thickness and cut with a cutter instead of rolling into balls.


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