One of the best parts of the holidays is blending sweet, comforting flavors into warm freshly baked cookies- unfortunately this year I was so busy that between working and making gifts I wasn’t able to make a single cookie until after the hustle bustle of Christmas was over. But, not wanting to let that warm, holiday feeling escape me, I settled in to a little New Years baking instead. The cookies I ended up making use a simple, crispy shortbread cookie with sweet, nutty almonds and pops of tart, fruity, winter rosehips.
Rosehips are a wonderful item to forage- they are the tart and sweet berry that grows on rosebushes after the flowers have wilted and died. The bright red berries are one of the few wild winter foragable plants where I live. Best of all, they are widespread, common and easy to identify. The red hips can be found starting in early autumn and will remain through the winter until picked. While there are many types of rosehips that vary greatly in size, most are edible (as always, when foraging use caution and verify that you have indeed found rosehips before consuming). The biggest downside to rosehips is they are filled with tightly packed seeds and thin seed-hairs that are irritating to the human digestive system so they need to be removed before the fruit are eaten. This can be time consuming but the tasty, vitamin C rich berries are well worth the effort- they add a delicate, tart and bright vibrancy to the shortbread cookies that will brighten even the darkest winter day.
The number of rosehips you will need to gather varies a good deal depending on the size of the rosehips, but after the seeds and hairs are removed you should have about half a cup of the rosehip flesh. They should be chopped finely along with the almonds, not quite to the point of being a powder but nearly. They will get mixed with flour into a creamed vegan butter and sugar mixture and baked on parchment paper for around 20 minutes. Unlike most cookies, shortbread cookies can be cooked in a single sheet and cut into smaller sizes once they’ve been taken out of the oven before they’ve cooled. Once they have cooled, they will change from a soft, malleable dough into crispy and flakey cookies- the perfect state to enjoy them.
Almond Rosehip Shortbread Cookies
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) of earth balance, or other vegan butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ½ cup rosehips, loosely packed, with the inside seeds and hairs removed
- ½ cup almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper, next finely chop the rosehips and almonds and set aside.
2. Using a hand-mixer, whip the vegan butter. Add the sugar and whip until it is fully integrated and fluffy. With the mixer on a low setting, add the flour, rosehips and almonds half a cup at a time until it has all been added.
3. Scoop the batter onto the baking dish covered with parchment paper and use your hands to push into an even layer across the entire pan. Make as smooth as possible, or use a fork to add texture- the cookies will not smooth in the oven. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until it has turned more golden but not brown- they will still be fairly soft but will harden as they cool.
4. Use the edges of the wax paper to lift the cookie dough from the hot pan and place on a cutting board. While still hot, cut down to the desired size and shape and then allow to cool completely before serving.