We dress up the most basic of cookie doughs. All you need are three main ingredients to make the dough--butter, flour and sugar. This easy shortbread recipe gets gussied up with herbs and edible flowers for a beautiful, tea party treat.
Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla to the bowl and continue to beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until well incorporated, 60 to 90 seconds.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. On low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat to combine. Add the milk and mix just a bit more until everything is incorporated. Add the rosemary and mix again to combine.
Scoop the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, shape it into a disc and wrap it up. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch or slightly thinner. Cut out the shortbreads with desired cookie cutters, around 3 inches in size. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the cookies generously with the egg whites. Press dried or fresh flowers or fresh thyme sprigs onto the top of each cookie. Sprinkle the cookies with a thin layer of granulated sugar.
Bake the cookies until golden on the sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool fully on a cooling rack.