Lemon balm was one of the new items in my most recent Eatwell Farm CSA box. Since I had no idea what to do with the lemony-smelling herb, I turned to the recipes printed in the newsletter that accompanied the box. While the lemon balm vinaigrette sounded good, the lemon balm cookies sounded even better.
Rob and I had invited his sisters and cousins over for dinner on Sunday night so I started baking (and Rob started marinating the tequila-lime chicken we made) in the morning as my dough needed to chill in the fridge for three hours and the chicken needed to marinade for, well, as long as possible. (The seven hours we let it sit did the job just fine.)
The steps for making the lemon balm cookies were quite simple: First, mix the minced lemon balm with the lemon juice using the back of a spoon (a helpful suggestion written in the recipe). The next step was usually the one I dread most: “cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.” Fortunately, the recipe asked for softened butter and so the wet and dry ingredients blended together quite easily. Then I added an egg and the lemon mixture and gradually beat in the flour and salt. The recipe forgot to include the amount of salt to mix in but after reading a couple similar cookie recipes, I deduced that ½ teaspoon would do the trick (and it did).
Next, I rolled up the delicious tasting dough into a ball, placed it in a bowl then covered it with plastic wrap, and popped it into the fridge—leaving plenty of dough on the mixing spoon so that I could lick it off.
The recipe asked for the dough to be chilled three hours or until firm and I figured three hours, six hours, what was the difference. Unfortunately, it turned out that six hours made it a bit too firm and I couldn’t get the dough out of the bowl! Rob came to the rescue by running the bottom of the bowl under warm water and then pulling the ball of dough out.
But then, I was unable to do anything with it. I couldn’t put a dent in the chilled ball. Again, I was happy to be baking with Rob. He used a wiped down wine bottle (in lieu of a rolling pin) to flatten sections of the dough so I could roll it into a two-inch-diameter log and then slice it into 1/8-inch-thick circles.
Into the oven the little circles went for about nine minutes and voila, lemon balm cookies. To my disappointment, the cookies did not taste much like lemon. They did, however, taste very much like shortbread, which was a pleasant surprise. If I make this recipe again, I’ll definitely add lemon zest—and likely quite a bit of it.
After everyone arrived and we at dinner, we served the cookies with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled lemon balm on top, which greatly upped the lemony flavor as well as the visual presentation. Out of the 50ish cookies this recipe yielded, the seven of us managed to eat all but about 20 of them, so I’d say the recipe—even without added lemon zest—was a hit.
Here’s the recipe:
Lemon Balm Cookies
Yield: About 50 cookies
2 tablespoons minced lemon balm leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2-1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
*I would add 1 tablespoon lemon zest
1.) In a small dish, combine minced lemon balm leaves and lemon juice. Press mixture with back of spoon to blend. (I would add the 1 tablespoon lemon zest here to the lemon mixture.)
2.) In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and lemon mixture.
3.) Gradually beat in flour and salt.
4.) Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.
5.) Roll into a 2-inch-diameter log. Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the log into slices about 1/8-inch thick.
6.) Place on cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies will brown slightly around edges.
(From a recipe printed in my CSA box newsletter, originally published on cooks.com)