Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Series in Thyme

I'm over-run with thyme. This happened last year too. We go nuts with the herbs on the balcony ledge, and they grow faster than we can eat them. But I'm not complaining. I love looking at those big fat basil leaves, almost begging to be plucked and placed on top of tomato slices, and my new friend, Thai basil, seems to grow overnight in large quantities. And the thyme. Oh the thyme. Their tender springs are starting to lean away from their box and it seems like every time I cut a sprig, it grows back the next day.

I love thyme. There's something about it that just says "fresh." And it's taste lends well to both savoury and sweet things, a total plus in my book. Last year, we were content to add sprigs of thyme into our veggie broths and chicken dishes, use tons of it in summer salads and throw it in a biscuit or two. This year, I wanted to branch out and experiment more with it. I wanted to bake with it. Sweet treats with thyme?! Oh yes please!

Before I got any further, I'd like to give a big shout out to Lisa over at Sweet as Sugar Cookies. She has this wonderful thing going on at her blog: a sweet treats link party. People share their sweet treats recipes via a link on Lisa's blog. There are so .. many.. yummy..treats! I just linked my rhubarb orange madeleines, but I'm sure Lisa would also love these lemon thyme shortbread crisps.

I say shortbread crisps because they aren't like traditional shortbread that's thick and almost cake-like. They're still crumbly and buttery, but are thinner and crispier. I made them this way mostly because I wanted to roll out the dough and cut out little hearts, but it worked out perfectly. I used a modified recipe from epicurious via sevenspoons, which called for honey and rosemary added to a traditional shortbread recipe. I used thyme instead, and added a little grating of lemon zest that made all the difference. If you had lemon-thyme, that would be perfect as well, but regular thyme works very nicely. The flavour of the herb stands up well to all that buttery goodness and pairs nicely with the freshness of the lemon zest. They are a perfect treat to give to someone special (like a sister!) or just to have with a cup of coffee. They'll even fancy up a store-bought ice cream that you can serve as dessert to guests.

Baking with thyme? Totally awesome, totally summery and totally fun. I've got more coming!
And don't forget to visit Lisa for more sweet treats inspiration!

Lemon Thyme Shortbread Crisps
makes about 20 little heart-shaped crisps
adapted from epicurious

1 cup of all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup of sifted confectioners sugar
2 tablespoon of honey

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until smooth. Add the thyme and stir well. Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix to form a loose dough.

2. On a floured surface, turn out the dough and give it a few little kneads. Flour up your rolling pin and roll out to about 1/4 inch. Use your favourite cookie cutter and go nuts! Place the cut cookies on a cookie sheet.

3. Gather up the remaining dough, roll out and repeat until all the dough is used up. Bake your cookies in a 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges get lightly brown. Remove and cool.

Hey .. speaking of experimenting with shortbread .. remember last summer? Blackcurrent, where have you gone?


  1. cute cookies! i wonder whether thyme works with chocolate at all....

  2. thanks mia! chocolate and thyme.. mmmmmmm like a chocolate thyme truffle?

  3. I think I can almost taste these - you had me at lemon-thyme, what a gorgeous combination!

  4. thanks monkia! and they're simpler to make if you don't want to roll out the cookies that i did.