Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tarragon Shortbread Cookies

I know it's not fashionable, but my first exposure to tarragon came in the form of Miracle Whip, which I've heard is one of the dominant 'secret spices' in the infamous salad cream.

I grew up in a Miracle Whip household, despite the fact that just about every food blogger seems to view consuming Miracle Whip versus Hellman's Mayo as a kind of an Original Foodie Sin. I don't eat Miracle Whip any more, and I find the fact that my anti-sugar mother preferred Miracle Whip to mayo kind of odd.  Maybe because it is slightly lower in calories?  Regardless, Miracle Whip has high-fructose corn syrup and more sugar, so it's not a health food.

Tarragon, however, I just learned, as many reputed health benefits.  It has a very strong anise flavor and can overpower dishes in small quantities (as I recently discovered when I tried to use it on roasted turkey thighs in excess).  However, in small doses like in these simple shortbread cookies, it lends an interesting flavor that is both savory and sweet.

According to this source:

"An infusion prepared with the leaves of tarragon has been traditionally recommended to improve appetite, alleviate flatulence and colic, control menstruation, to provide relief from the pain caused by arthritis, gout and rheumatism as well as flush out worms from the body. It is said that when freshly collected tarragon leaves or roots are topically applied to cuts, sores and even teeth, they act as a local painkiller."

In terms of the associations I have with the herb, I suppose the vision of a young maiden who dallied with her tutor trying to bring on her monthly curse by eating tarragon is more romantic than my memories of making tuna and egg salad for a summer lunch with my mother. I can't vouch for the health benefits, but give tarragon a try, versus the more expected rosemary in shortbread.

Tarragon Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from Food52

--yields 1 dozen rounds or a 9-inch scored pan of cookies--


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
1/2 cup (1 stick) of room temperature butter


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Sift flour and salt together.  Rub sugar and tarragon together to release the oils of the herb, add and incorporate into flour mixture and sift with a fork until well mixed.

3. Cut in the butter to make a dough. 

4. To make round cookies, I scooped the cookie balls into a nonstick muffin tin.  Alternatively, as suggested in the original recipe, you can also press the dough into a greased 9-inch or square cake pan and prick with a fork.

3. Bake 10-15 minutes for the 'rounds' until the shortbread is golden, or 20-30 if cooking in a cake pan.  Score while still warm and cut when cool if using the pan.


  1. It never occurred to me that I might have worms. Eek. At least I know how to flush them out now.

    I don't think I've ever had Miracle Whip. I can't decide if I need to do something about that or not.

  2. @flurrious--not even my dog has worms, so I feel safe. Perhaps that is misguided, but after the tarragon, I'm hoping all is well.

    I don't think Miracle Whip is a necessity--kind of like Jell-O pudding pops and Cracklin' Oat Bran, it has a certain nostalgic pull for me, but it's not something an adult needs to consume past a certain point, and I haven't revisited it in awhile...

  3. I love shortbread. I haven't had it in ages!

  4. Rats, I thought I may have been the first person to come up with Tarragon shortbread cookies. I made mine with a balsamic vinegar reduction frosting and a raspberry on top. Your recipe is the only one I found online. Tip of the cap for originality!