A DASH of Baking: Pink Peppercorn Shortbread Cookies with Lemon and Rosemary

Pink Peppercorn Shortbread Cookies with Lemon and Rosemary

A Sophisticated and Easy Shortbread Cookie Recipe

cubed butter

Several years ago, I was located much closer to Crumble & Flake Patisserie, such that indulging in their sweets was a much easier thing for me to do than it is now.  Of the items I would get, a pink peppercorn shortbread cookie stood out to me.  It was delicately sweet with a bright and zingy flavor highlighted with a little heat brought on from the peppercorns.  Now I’m located in West Seattle, and with our main route in and out of the area currently out of commission, it’s a little less likely I’m going to be venturing all the way across town to indulge in my need to get these delicious cookies.  I’m not even sure they have them anymore!

Pink peppercorns
pink peppercorns

Though I decided a while ago that I should try to come up with my own recipe for these buttery cookies, recently the need to make these cookies became relentless.  I do not know why this popped back into my brain again with such fervor, but it’s been nearly all I can think about lately.  This is saying a lot considering that many people may know that I was sick recently and who is thinking about food while they’re sick?  Anyways, I’m attributing this to some coping mechanism or something for all the general stress. After 4 hours planting bulbs on Sunday in the front yard, I went to 2 grocery stores to randomly buy the ingredients to make these cookies and then I prioritized making them over making dinner.  Yes.  That is what happened.  Am I ashamed?  Absolutely not.  We did eventually have dinner, and then ate so many cookies, so everything worked out in the end.

Pink peppercorn shortbread cookie dough
A close up of the gorgeous color from the peppercorns, lemon zest, and rosemary on the fluffy background of the crumbly dough mixture.

Pink Peppercorn Shortbread Cookies with Lemon and Rosemary

These delicious, peppery citrus shortbread cookies were inspired by Crumble & Flake Patisserie and based on a recipe from Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook (favorite breads, pastries, sweets & savories).

“Sour Cherry Shortbread.” Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook: Favorite Breads, Pastries, Sweets & Savories, by Leslie Mackie and Andrew Cleary, Sasquatch Books, 2006, pp. 162–164.

mixing brown sugar and corn starch
Mix the brown sugar and corn starch together breifly in a mixing bowl to break up any major clumps.
mixing shortbread dough
You can you the stand mixer if you have one to start cutting the butter into the flour-brown sugar mixture. I like to finish the cutting in by hand to ensure that all the butter pieces are broken up and equally mixed.
Pink peppercorns rosemary lemon shortbread dough
Preparing to mix the peppercorns, rosemary, and lemon zest into the dough mix to form the final dough.
Dough for pink peppercorn shortbread cookies
The first half of dough prior to rolling out into a sheet for refrigeration.
Pink Peppercorn Shortbread cookie dough
Both sheets of dough fully rolled out and ready to be refrigerated. The one on the left looks like the profile of a cartoon character!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter chilled and cut into pieces (you can also used salted butter, but omit ½ teaspoon salt)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of half of a medium lemon
  • 4 teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed and divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • Icing Sugar for sprinkling
Cutting Pink Peppercorn Shortbread Cookies and sprinkling with sugar
I frequently use glasses and barware for cutting biscuits and dough.
Cutting Pink Peppercorn Shortbread Cookies
Try to be as efficient as you can when cutting your dough to maximize the number of cookies you get out of the rolled sheet. I usually ball my extra pieces up and re-roll and cut extra cookies from the dough remaining after the first round of cutting.

Instructions:

  1. Combine the brown sugar and cornstarch in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.  Use the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer.  Blend the sugar and cornstarch together for about 30 seconds or until most clumps are broken up.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix for another 30 seconds or until combined.
  3. If you are using a stand mixer, slowly add the chilled butted to the stand mixer and continue mixing low speed until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  If you are doing this by hand, you can use a pastry cutter, fork, or even one of those squiggly potato mashers if you have it to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it gets to the same crumbly state.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest, rosemary, and half the pink peppercorns to your coarse and crumbly mixture.
  5. At this point, I remove the bowl from the stand mixer and finish pulling the dough together by hand.  You can also have the stand mixer do this; I just get impatient.  Make sure to stop the mixer as soon as you seen the dough come together.  If you are doing this by hand, then continue to work in the bowl until the dough forms.
  6. Lightly flour a worksurface and gently dump your dough into the center.  I say gently because I, out of fear of overmixing, tend to end of with little bits that like to roll all over the place if I do not do this step carefully.  Smoosh your shortbread dough roughly back together as needed, then divide as evenly as possible in half.  Set one half aside.
  7. Place your current dough-half on a piece of parchment paper on your worksurface.  Roll the dough out to approximately ¼” thick.  Use the parchment paper sheet to lift the dough onto a cookie sheet.  Repeat with the other half of dough.  Cover both cookie sheets of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  9. Remove the cookie sheets from the refrigerator and transfer the parchment paper and dough back to a worksurface.  Sprinkle each dough sheet with half the pink peppercorns remaining and icing sugar if using.  Using your hands, lightly press the peppercorns and sugar into the surface of the dough.
  10. Using a cookie cutter approximately 2” in diameter (or a cup like I did), cut out your cookies from the dough.  I gently repressed any displaced toppings back onto the cut cookie surface before transferring back to a freshly parchment-covered cookie sheets.  I also chose to sprinkle each cookie with a little extra sugar for a little more sparkle.
  11. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time on the center rack of the oven for approximately 20-25 mins or until just golden brown on all sides.  Be sure to rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking in order to ensure even browning.  Let cool on the baking sheet for approximately 20 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Pink Peppercorn Shortbread Cookies with Lemon and Rosemary just baked
Right out of the oven these shortbread cookies are absolutely gorgeous and smell incredible. It was very hard to resist not eating one (or at least attempting) before they had cooled sufficiently.

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