High Line vendor Blue Bottle Coffee is known for their delicious single-origin drip coffee and famous house-made pastries. Visit them on the High Line at West 16th Street, or create your own olive oil and rosemary shortbread cookies at home using this special recipe that has been adjusted for a home kitchen.
Makes 35 Shortbread Cookies / Hands-on Time : 2 Minutes
From Start to Finish : 4 Hours
*Recipe from "Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee" by James Freeman, Caitlin Freeman, and Tara Duggan
My best friend's mother, Deborah Dunsworth Quinn, made piles of her legendary shortbread cookies every Christmas season while we are growing up. Their house was like a factory, with stacks of well-seasoned clay shortbread molds being filled and refilled with dough by her three daughters, Vanessa, Robin, and Zoe, and packages going out to eager friends and neighbors around our small hometown of Ojai, Calif. Just before Christmas 2007, Deborah unexpectedly and tragically passed away. It was a heart-wrenching time, and in the week after her passing, her daughters consoled themselves by grabbing the well-worn recipe, dusting off the shortbread molds, and making piles and piles of their mother's shortbread, this time for the hundreds of guests attending their mom's memorial service.
Our Mint Plaza cafe opened shortly after her passing, and in memory of Deborah, I modified her recipe into what has become one of our most popular cookies. The base recipe is very similar to the original -- buttery, salty, and with the perfect shortbread texture -- but varied by the addition of chopped fresh rosemary and a generous brush of olive oil straight out of the oven. The quantities we make at Blue Bottle necessitate that we cannot use shortbread molds, but I have a special clay mold I use when making these cookies at home -- which, hopefully one day, will be as well worn as Deborah's are. This recipe details how we make the shortbread at Blue Bottle without a mold. If you have a mold, see the note below for details on baking the shortbread Deborah's way.
Substitutions: This is an incredibly flexible recipe that's perfect for modifications. Add ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts for a slightly more savory and even more rich shortbread, as photographed. Or, for a delightful Turkish coffee shortbread, substitute 1 tablespoon coarsely ground coffee for the rosemary and add ¼ tablespoon of ground green cardamom. These are just a couple of ideas, and I encourage you to experiment and come up with your own variations.
1 cup (8 oz / 227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup (4.1 oz / 115 g) powdered sugar, sifted
2 cups (9.9 oz / 280 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, and salt, and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix on medium speed until lighter in color and the texture resembles mayonnaise, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the flour. Mix on low speed just until uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on low speed for 1 minute.
Gather the dough into a ball, transfer to a piece of a plastic wrap, cover with a second piece of plastic wrap, and flatten to form a rectangle measuring 7 by 10 inches (18 by 25 cm) and about ½ inch (1.3 cm) thick. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 5 days.
Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough into small rectangles measuring 1 by 2 inches (2.5 by 5 cm), and place the cookies on the lined baking sheet, spacing them at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Bake for about 18 minutes, until golden around the edges, rotating the pan midway through the baking time. Brush the tops with olive oil as soon as cookies come out of the oven. Let cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing, then let cool completely before serving for optimal texture. Cooled completely and stored in an airtight container, the cookies will keep for up to 3 days.
Note: To use a shortbread mold instead of forming the dough into a rectangle, press the just-mixed dough into an 8-inch (20-cm) clay mold and flatten it into an even layer. Bake at 350℉ (175℃) for about 12 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before inverting the shortbread onto a sheet pan, then immediately brush the tops with olive oil. Let cool completely before serving for optimal texture.