Jul 2009

Basil Cookies

Several weeks ago, The Astronomer purchased a most lovely basil plant from Trader Joe’s for just $2.99. [Our friends B-side and SinoSoul are also proud owners of these bargain basement basil plants.] The Astronomer figured that even if the plant died after being harvested once, it wouldn’t have been any more expensive than purchasing packaged basil from the herb section. Indeed, a sound and rational call.

After weeks of spoiling our plant with the finest tap water and plenty of sunshine, we were rewarded with a thriving plant with an abundance of leaves. For our basil plant’s inaugural harvest, I baked sweet and savory basil cookies using a simple recipe from 5 Star Foodie. The cookies’ textures and flavors are both spot on—I added lemon zest to brighten up the entire package.

Pestos and caprese salads are great uses for basil, but savory desserts offer an unexpected and delicious surprise.

  • 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup basil leaves (packed)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon

Finely chop basil by hand or in a food processor. Add lemon juice and mix until well blended. Pour into a bowl and whisk in the egg.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. In a third large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and zest together, then mix in the basil-egg mixture and flour mixture until the dough forms.

Shape into a ball, cover in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Form the dough into golf ball-sized rounds. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until bottoms are nice and golden.

Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Makes 24 cookies.

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21 thoughts on “Basil Cookies

  1. Bookmarked! Fell in love with a basil ice cream I made a couple of years ago, so this cookie has my name on it.

  2. basil cookies? they sound very interesting…i’m going to have to try this because i love basil. i’ve bought a couple basil plants before, but they always die on me…or I guess it would be more correct to say that I kill them.

  3. These sound good. I think I’ll try them this week. I love unorthodox cookie ingredients. Two of my favorite weird cookies are jasmine tea biscotti (made with ground up jasmine tea leaves) and chocolate cardamom cookies (cardamom is seriously the most neglected of the sweet spices.)

  4. I need to get one of those basil plants — I can’t believe how inexpensive they are!

    The cookies look great. So creative! And I love the addition of lemon zest. I’m sort of sessed with the stuff recently. Put it in everything! 🙂

    Happy 4th!

  5. Question: Fresh basil is not available where I’m from. How much would I need to use, if I substitute it with dried basil?

  6. Hepcat – The standard substitution for fresh herbs to dried is 3:1. However, in this situation using 1/3 c. of dried basil would be outrageous. Also, the flavor would be quite different. I would suggest starting with two to three tablespoons of dried basil to see how the flavor comes through, and adjusting from there. Good luck! And please let me know how it goes.

  7. Thank you so much for the reply. I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out once I give it a try 🙂

  8. Baking the second batch right now. The subtlety of sweet lemon flavor hits the spot for me. I reduced sugar to 1/4 cup, but next time I might reduce it to 1/8 cup. I guess I’m having a hard time adjusting my brain to adapt to consuming basil as sweet treats. I rolled 1 T spoon of dough in a bowl of sugar before baking. I also added zest of a lime and half a zest of lemon. Sage bits might be an interesting addition next time..mm.

  9. This is wonderful! I was just contemplating the scent of the fresh sweet basil I have planted and thinking what would it be like in cookies, so I googled and found your post here! I’ll have to try the recipe sometime!

  10. Have you ever tried freezing the dough for later baking? It’s not yet time for baking Christmas cookies, but I’ve got the fresh basil now. I already made one batch. Lovely!

  11. Sue – I’ve never tried freezing the dough, but I think that it would work well. People freeze basil pesto all the time, so I have no fear that the basil would stay green!

  12. Can you roll the dough into logs and chill first and then slice them to bake? They sound delicious!

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