In her interview with blogger and cookbook author Ashley English, contributor Katrina Ohstrom asks Ashley if she or her family have been leaning any recipes from her new book “A Year of Picnics” for comfort and nourishment while running back and forth to the NICU to visit her son Alistair, who was born prematurely. Ashley mentioned these spiced shortbread cookies from the “Sacred Tree Picnic” chapter of her book, because they hold up well in transport, they’re not quick to go stale, and they’re fortifying with a cup of hot tea when she comes home after a long day at the hospital.
Ashley kindly offered to share this recipe with Spoonful readers, for whatever occasions a bit of warm spice and a buttery crumb is called for. In her book, she says of these cookies:
While not typically the first foods associated with trees, a good number of spices come from them. Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree, while nutmeg hails from several species of tree in the genus Myristica (along with mace). Be sure to give the dough plenty of time to chill after making it, as it tremendously helps the sliced dough to hold its form during baking.
Makes 2 dozen cookies
Recipe by Ashley English
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into chunks
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.
Add the butter, cloves, and nutmeg. Pulse until the mixture begins to come together and hold its shape. This will take about 1 to 2 minutes, so don’t worry if the mixture looks crumbly at first.
Divide the dough in half. Place one half onto a sheet of parchment paper. Shape it into a 6-inch-long log and roll it up in the parchment. Repeat with the second half of dough. Place both parchment-wrapped logs in the refrigerator and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Remove the dough logs from the refrigerator. Slice each log into 12 rounds about 1⁄2 inch thick and arrange on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.
Allow the cookies to cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to the wire rack until completely cooled. Transfer to a lidded container.
Photo by Jen Altman, courtesy of Roost Books