A really good friend was recently in town for just a couple days. He lives in California and has never been to our current home (which we have been living in for 12 years!) Yes, he is a good friend but, like all of us, has a very busy life and just has not had the time to visit as much as we all would like. So, when he told us he was coming up for a business meeting, we had to have him over for dinner. I was planning the menu when I realized he would be here on one of the hottest days of the summer (so far). I wanted a light and easy meal but still wanted to make some effort in honor of our buddy. I settled on rosemary mustard roasted pork loin with bacon, roasted vegetables (carrots, cauliflower and asparagus), homemade ciabatta bread and limoncello ice cream. I got to thinking that it would be nice to have something to go with the ice cream, you know a little something crunchy that would complement the lemon flavor. Strawberry basil shortbread just popped into my head and I had to try to make it happen. And that is how this recipe was born!
The trick is getting all the strawberry flavor and not all the moisture that comes with fresh fruit. I used freeze died strawberries from Trader Joe’s. The same brand that I used when making strawberry frosting for one of Sally’s baking challenges (the roll cake).
I decided to grind the dried strawberries with the granulated to sugar to incorporate the berry flavor into the shortbread dough. My recipe was 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 cup dried strawberries which I then combined with my food processor.
From here on it was a pretty straightforward shortbread recipe. I creamed the butter and strawberry sugar and added lemon extract. The flour and salt were added and mixed until just combined. I then added the finely chopped basil and mixed until thoroughly incorporated. The dough was chilled for 30 minutes and then I rolled it into a square roughly 6 in. X 6 in. 1/2 inch-3/4 in thickness.
I used a ruler (because I am anal and a control freak) and cut 3 inch bars.
These went on a parchment lined pan and were sprinkled with Demerara sugar for sparkle and crunch. This shortbread is not overly sweet but I wanted it to pair with the limoncello ice cream, so I resisted the urge to add a glaze. If it was to be served solo then I would add a glaze that would boost the strawberry flavor.
I am happy with how well these complemented the lemon in the ice cream. I would like to perhaps enhance the strawberry flavor in the future. Maybe more than 1 cup of dried berries? Is there a strawberry extract that could be used? I am happy with the basil and don’t want to alter that as I am worried it could overpower the cookie. If any of you try this recipe please give me your thoughts and critiques, I would love your input!
Strawberry Basil Shortbread
This tender, savory shortbread pairs well with citrus notes or is delicious on its own. A unique item for your brunch guests!
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 cup dried strawberries (fresh will not work as they contain too much moisture)
-3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 teaspoon lemon extract
-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
-2 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
- Combine the sugar and dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a flat blade. Pulse until the berries are coarsely ground and well incorporated with the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Be aware that this will create some dust.
- Cream the sugar mixture and room temperature butter-it must be room temp. I leave my butter out the night before to make sure it is soft, if the butter is too cold the dough will not come together. Add the lemon extract.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture and combine on low speed, just until the dough come together. Add the basil and mix until well distributed. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and form into a disc. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for, at least, 30 minutes. You may chill for longer but allow the dough to warm a bit before rolling out as it may be crumbly if it is too cold.
- Work with 1/2 or 1/3 portion of the dough at a time. Roll or pat into a 6 in X 6 in square. Using a sharp knife, or cookie cutter, cut bars or desired shape. Place on paper lined pan, sprinkle with sugar if desired.
- Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on a baking rack.