Growing up with Scottish grandparents, shortbread featured heavily in our family celebrations—Christmas, mainly. Each aunt made a version of my grandmother’s standard recipe, while my mother (a defiant non-Celt) makes a light whipped cookie with neon green and red cherry centres. I like my shortbread dense, crazy buttery and undecorated. Not quite like my grandmother’s, not quite like my mother’s… More like…mine. In fact, one could say I’m somewhat uptight about shortbread. But one, would be kind of nasty in saying so. So, let’s not even go there. What really matters here is that I pulled the proverbial butterstick out of my arse and broadened my shortbread horizons. We needed a gluten-free confection for an Urban Wild Foods Walk and Tasting. And so, I set to dreaming up something sweet, but not too sweet. Herbal, but not too herbal. Interesting but not too fussy. To me, these provisions described two of my favourite things perfectly—dandelions and shortbread. Traditional, simple, magical. Here’s the recipe:
2 cups brown or white rice flour
1 cup organic, unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup organic sugar of your choice
1/4 cup emmental cheese (Swiss cheese – You can substitute sharper hard cheeses, but watch the salt! If you go for parmesan or asiago, then skip the sea salt)
1/4 cup dandelion petals & greens, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely-chopped rosemary
black pepper to taste
sea salt to sprinkle on top
In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar and honey until light & fluffy. Add in dandelion petals and chopped leaves. Be sure to remove the green sepals. I just pinch them until petals pop out. Mix in just until combined.
Stir the rice flour into butter mixture in 2 additions. After the first addition, stir in the emmental cheese, rosemary and a bit of fresh ground black pepper (to taste). Stir in the 2nd addition of flour to make smooth dough.
Roll the dough in waxed paper to form a firm cylinder. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C)
Slice your cylinder of gorgeous, dandelion/rosemary/pepper-flecked dough into 1 inch thick rounds (*note* in the photo the cookies are thinner – I was running short on dough and needed A LOT of cookies for an event, so I cut them thinner and reduced the time) using a sharp knife and place a good 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.
Bake for 20 minutes—rotating your pan half-way through. Keep a keen eyeball on them during the last few minutes. You want them just golden.
The cookies will be very delicate when they first come out of the oven. Spare yourself some heartache and let them cool on the cookie sheet. When cool, transfer them to…your mouth.
Dandelion: powerful, yet gentle diuretic; liver-supporting; stabilizes blood sugar levels; contains Vitamins C & A; high in iron; rich in potassium, regulates excess fluids—good for skin, liver & kidneys
Magical properties: Divination, wishes, calling spirits
Rosemary: tonic; astringent; diaphoretic; stimulant; excellent stomachic and nervine; good for headaches; externally used to treat dandruff
Magical properties: Fidelity, remembrance, dispels jealousy