Christmas cookies are a bake-and-take treat

22 Dec 2012 @ 5.59 pm
| Food & drink

A great homemade gift, Lemon & Rosemary Cookies. Photographs: Sue Jewitt
Sue Jewitt from Apples For Eggs bakes up a batch of cookies which make a last-minute Christmas present – or just a treat for the family

There’s still time to make some homemade gifts for friends, neighbours and Christmas party hosts.

This lovely recipe for Lemon & Rosemary Cookies is sure to be well received and the smell of pine-like rosemary, with its uplifting properties and lemon, will surely bring the Spirit of Christmas into your home. Citrusy and aromatic and deliciously moreish the recipe should make 40 cookies, however, we found ourselves with only 20 left to give away!

But before we don our apron a few things about rosemary. If you type in rosemary on a Google search there is a wealth of information on health benefits and rich folklore attached to its name. These are just a few of our favourites.

A symbol of remembrance and fidelity, it’s mentioned by Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet – “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance”. At funerals in Elizabethan times rosemary was strewn on the deceased coffin to denote they would be remembered and at weddings flowering sprigs of rosemary were worn by the bride to ensure wedding vows were not forgotten.

It is also claimed that rosemary improves memory as well as having the added benefit of containing iron and B vitamins. But our very favourite is a legend that claims the Virgin Mary spread her blue cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting and consequently the flowers turned blue. The shrub became known as Rose Of Mary!

Without further ado let’s turn on the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3.

Homemade Lemon & Rosemary Cookies

150 grams / 5oz butter
165 grams / 6oz golden caster sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 eggs
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
275 grams / 10oz all purpose flour or plain flour
1 ½teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
15 grams / ½oz pine nuts

For the icing
125 / 4oz grams icing sugar
2 tablespoons double cream
2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice

For decoration
A few pine nuts
Aprigs of rosemary

Preparation: After setting your oven at 170C/325F/gas 3 you can start to chop and zest! Start by grating the zest of about 6 Lemons to make 1 tablespoon of zest and finely chop 2 teaspoons of rosemary, removing the needles from the woody stalk. Measure out your pine nuts and salt.

To make: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter & sugar together until light and creamy then add your zest and eggs, one at a time making sure everything is mixed in well. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder and chopped rosemary. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix, a little at a time, making sure the flour is blended in thoroughly.

When the mixture is dough-like add the pine nuts. Place the dough in the fridge for 1-2hours to firm up. Meanwhile Grease 2-3 good sized baking trays. When the dough is firm take a tablespoon of cookie dough and roll in to a ball and slightly flatten on the baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, until slightly puffed and just starting to brown around the edges.

Leave the biscuits to cool completely on a cooling rack before icing. To make the icing, combine the cream and lemon juice, then add the icing sugar and blend until smooth. Spread a small amount on top of the biscuits then decorate with a pine nut and a couple of rosemary needles.

Wait until the icing has completely dried (best left overnight to be sure) before packaging your biscuits in cellophane bags, Kilner jars or a pretty tin.

Tin & kilner jar from Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop on Bishopthorpe Road.

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe from Karen at the FamilyStyleFood blog. Original recipe found here on Good With Butter.

More baking ideas: Cranberry Fruit Leather is a super sweet treat while Stained Glass Window Cookies look as good as they taste