Calendula—a Golden Herb for Garden and Kitchen
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
I use a little whole-wheat flour for nutrition and body, but you could use all unbleached flour for a more delicate cookie. Also try almonds or pistachios in place of pecans, or cherries or chopped dried apricots in place of the cranberries.
• 1 cup sugar
• ½ cup fresh or dried calendula petals
• 1 cup pecans
• ¾ cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup unbleached white flour
• ⅓ cup whole-wheat flour
• ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon stone-ground yellow cornmeal
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• Scant ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
• 12 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter cut into 12 pieces
• 1 extra-large egg
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a food processor, combine sugar and calendula; pulse until calendula starts to break down into smaller pieces. Transfer calendula sugar to a shallow bowl.
Pulse (or chop with a knife) pecans and cranberries until coarsely chopped; transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, combine flours, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Toss to mix.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure ¾ cup of the calendula sugar and put it in food processor with butter. Process until creamy and blended, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape sides if necessary. Add egg and pulse for about 1 minute; add vanilla and pulse to blend. Add dry ingredients and process until just blended; do not over mix.
Transfer dough to bowl with nuts and fruit; stir to distribute nuts and fruit evenly. Using a spoon or your fingers, scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball about 1 inch in diameter or slightly bigger. Roll balls in remaining calendula sugar and place on baking sheets, spacing balls about 2 inches apart.
Using a flat-bottomed glass, gently press balls to about ¼-inch thickness. (Dip bottom of glass into sugar occasionally to prevent sticking.)
Bake cookies about 14 minutes, until their edges are lightly browned. If baking two sheets at once, switch places halfway through baking time.
Remove cookies from sheets immediately and cool on racks. (If the cookies cool on the pans, they will harden and break when removed.) Store in a tightly covered tin.
Contributing Editor Susan Belsinger frequently writes about the many aspects of herbs, especially using them in cooking.
For the main article, Calendula Officinalis: Herb of the Year 2008, click here.