Lemon Lime Basil Cookies
Trees stand still. Leaves barely dance in the almost absent wind as it lingers and loiters under the hot white rays of the sun. Blades of grass stretch and reach ever higher, itching to scrape the calm blue sky. Delicate flowers wilt, begging for an ounce of water to satisfy their parched petals. The calm morning air, filled with the songs of lonely birds and insects, is only disturbed by the monstrosity that is my decades old lawn mower roaring to life . I strain and grunt as I sledge the resistant machine to fight its rusty wheels; she cadges, hoping to sink forever into the tall, unkempt grass. Beautiful, sky-high blades meet their death with a swift decapitation and seek their revenge as they swarm my allergy-laden nose.
I run my hand over my red forehead, squeegeeing the puddles of dirty sweat planning an attack on my itchy eyes. I dodge rouge rocks and ant piles, aware of the firestorm both can bring as they meet the whirling blades of my monster. I soon slip on my motorized, gas fueled backpack and take aim at the rivers of grass, dirt and leaves littering my driveway coercing them with manmade wind into beautiful, manageable piles. I flap a black bag open and scoop the unwanted bits of my now-perfect yard away from prying neighborly eyes. Gulps of water satiate my thirst; small moments of pause and reflection allow me to admire my handy work. I once again take my rightful place as alpha-dog of the neighborhood, my greenest of the green grass now more manicured than any other house around me. The beautiful smell of freshly cut grass emanates from my house like a beacon reminding my neighbors, I have won this round of the incessant domestic, househusband wars.
Then the fragrance of basil slowly wafts its way to me as pride swells my head; my curious nose follows the trail of aromatic crumbs. I kneel down to a collection of basil plants limping in the blinding heat. A lone branch once laying, growing delicately towards the grass is chopped, diced and torn to shreds, another victim of my roving mower. One small branch on one small basil plant of a dozen scattered about my yard. The loss doesn’t bother me. My nose now drowning in the beautiful, perfect smell of basil directs my mind to replay so many delicious memories of basil. A titillated smile pierces my lips. I carefully prune a few branches from my thai basil plant with my finger nails and carry the bouquet inside with me, giving it a reprieve from the heat.
Inside after a quick cold shower and three more glasses of ice cold water my heart begins to calm and the summer heat leaves my body. My mind is free from the scorcher of the outdoors and I begin to think how can I celebrate summer from the safety of my air conditioned home. My mind quickly settles on cookies laden with lemon, lime and the basil I pruned just moments ago. I preheat my oven, get my mixer going and start throwing in ingredients. As I peer through the glass of my oven waiting for the cookies to mature into soft pillows of chewy deliciousness, thoughts of lemonade dance in my still warm-to-the-touch head. I scoop up the rest of my fresh lemons and limes and laboriously squeeze away. I plop down into my big comfy couch placed strategically under my biggest, fastest fan. I sip on lemon limeade and nibble on lemon-lime basil cookies one after the other as I get lost in pretending to do work. Summer is a wonderful time.
Cookies: These cookies exude summer. They are deliciously refreshing with a distinct, almost pungent layer of basil all wrapped up in a soft, chewy, sugary cookie. I love lemon in everything, especially cookies and desserts. Lime adds just a little extra layer of sweet tartness. I use two types of basil, Thai and classic sweet basil (pictured above). Thai basil has a licorice taste not present in sweet basil and it stands up to heat much better than sweet basil. You can use just sweet or even just thai basil if you like–really whatever you have on hand. If you’re lucky you’ll have a lemon basil plant growing in your yard; you can use that for an extra kick of the lemon flavor.
The base of this cookie is my go-to cookie base (the same I use in my various chocolate chip cookies with the exception of 86ing the brown sugar). This base is super easy, can be done sans mixer, and only takes 8 to 12 minutes in a 375°F oven–depending how deliciously doughy or fantastically firm and crispy you like your cookies. Did I mention this is my first time using a silpat thingy? Aren’t they handy?
Basil Plants: If you grow basil at home (or any herb) you should never let it flower like I have so carelessly done in one of the above photos. Once an herb plant begins to flower, the leaves will become bitter. It’s a shame because basil is beautiful when it flowers. Although, if you’re looking for a beautiful, unpretentious bouquet try putting some pruned basil stems with leaves and flowers in a mason jar of water. Not only do they look adorable but since basil can propagate in water, the bouquet–pending a source of constant fresh water–could last forever. Within a couple weeks you should be able to plant the bouquet and have yourself a new basil plant.
Lemon Lime Basil Cookies
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
6 ounces (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Zest from 1 lemon
Zest from 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons basil leaves, finely chopped
7 (1 3/4 cup) ounces bread flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon sheet if you’ve got one.
2. Cream the sugar and butter together until it is light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg, vanilla, zests and basil and mix in well.
4. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until combined and everything is evenly distributed.
5. Spoon the dough onto the lined baking sheets. This recipe will make 32 medium sized cookies.
6. Bake in a preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes–I baked mine for 10; 8 minutes will yield a very soft dougy cookie whereas 12 minutes will yield a crispier cookie.
7. Let cool for a couple minutes before removing from the baking sheet.
Oh and because I took way too many pictures of cookies, and just incase you are doubting whether or not you should make these cookies, here is another shot–for those of you shallow DoF fans.
What’s your favorite lemon and lime recipe? How about your favorite basil recipe? I’m always looking for new ideas.