For both entry-level and experienced gardeners, herbs are a simple go-to each every season. Compact, easy to plant, and generally simple to maintain, they are a great teaching tool for young gardeners, too. Children can plant mint, cilantro, basil, and more in mason jars and pots small enough to keep indoors and watch in wonder as they spring to life.
But what to do with the herbs as they start to grow? Now it’s time to—in this instance—get baking!
These crumbly, buttery Lemon-Basil Shortbread Cookies are sure to please everyone, and because this recipe makes so many, you can happily share with friends and family.
Encourage children to help with additions made by hand (stirring in the walnuts), but leave mincing and cutting up to the adults. Once cooled, top each with a mint leaf, and serve!
Lemon-Basil Shortbread Cookies
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons chopped fresh lemon basil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon finely grated or minced lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
lime peel (use only the yellow or green portion of the peel)
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, basil, and lemon or lime peel in a separate bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well combined.
3. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. The mixture will be crumbly. Stir in the walnuts. Pour mixture into an ungreased 9-by-13-inch or similar-size pan, and press to even thickness.
4. Bake until edges begin to turn light brown, about 20 minutes. Do not over bake.
5. Using a sharp knife, slice shortbread into two-inch squares while hot. Let cool 10 minutes, then carefully transfer pieces to a plate or cooling rack.
6. Add a mint leaf to each cookie when serving, for decoration and added flavor, if desired.
Makes 24-30 cookies.