These may not be much to look at but they are the most impossibly delicious, fragrant, delicate little cookies and the addition of black pepper creates a lingering warmth. You can always reduce the amount of black pepper if you’re nervous about it but you should definitely include some.
These cookies are very delicate – mainly due to the large quantity of butter in the recipe but there’s no way round it; this amount of butter is essential if you want a melt-in-the-mouth little whisper of a cookie. They aren’t overly sweet; just the right balance of lemon and rosemary but make no mistake, this is a real cookie and not something you’d serve with cheese. And anyway, butter isn’t something to be afraid of – just ask any European.
The recipe calls for all-purpose (plain) flour but I used a combination of two thirds oat flour and one third almond meal as I don’t tolerate wheat well – they’re every bit as good either way and the best part is that you can make the dough well ahead and it will keep chilled in the fridge for 4 days or stick it in your freezer for later use. Likewise, the baked cookies will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days and they also freeze well.
I defy anyone not to want to gobble up the lot as soon as they’ve cooled and set, so you may want to slice and bake just a few at a time and freeze the remaining cookie dough for another day.
ROSEMARY & LEMON COOKIES with BLACK PEPPER
1 ½ cups (375ml) of all-purpose / plain flour
¼ cup (50ml) of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon (5ml) of coarsely ground black pepper (not ready ground – do it there and then)
½ teaspoon (2ml) of baking soda
½ teaspoon (2ml) of fine sea salt
1 cup / 2 sticks (250ml) of unsalted butter
Finely grated zest of half a large lemon
Start by gently whisking together the flour, rosemary, salt and baking soda; set aside.
Beat the butter, lemon zest and sugar together until pale and light, then beat in the egg. Make sure its well blended then fold in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
Take a large piece of baking parchment and drop lumps of cookie dough at intervals so that you can roll it all up and form a log, approx 1 inch in diameter. Wrap tightly and re-shape if necessary to create an even log shape.
Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours, up to 4 days (or freeze).
When you’re ready to bake the cookies, pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C). Slice the chilled log of dough into rounds approx ¼ inch (5mm) thick. Place on baking parchment on a cookie sheet at least one inch (2.5cm) apart, as they’ll spread out quite a bit.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden and set.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely. They will be very fragile so handle them carefully.