Meyer lemon shortbread.

I’ve been thinking about shortbread lately, and I wasn’t going to give in to temptation (especially after I consumed 80% of the butter/cream/cheese buns the other day), but then I needed comfort food and my stew failed last night and cookies always make everything better when we’re out of the stuff to make pudding (pudding is the most soothing of comfort foods). My grandpa died yesterday, and though we all knew it was coming, that kind of advance warning doesn’t make the news any less surprising or unpleasant. And while I certainly have thoughts on the matter, I think I’d best save them for now – I’m well past the age of emo, and besides, it’s impossible to think clearly about anything until you feel able to focus.

So this morning, I am busying myself with shortbread cookies, the kind that sparkle with Meyer lemon and whisper vanilla. Regular lemon – or any citrus you like – will do if your local market didn’t surprise you with Meyer lemons this week. To replicate the taste of Meyer lemons, use two tablespoons lemon juice and one tablespoon orange juice (preferably mandarin orange juice), and that should give a suitable impression.

Meyer lemon shortbread cookies

(Makes about 24.)

  • 1 cup butter, softened (room temperature)
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 Meyer lemons, zest and juice (zest = about 2 tbsp., juice = 2 to 3 tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Cream together butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla, and salt until liquid is absorbed into the mix. Mixture should be shiny and light.

Add flour, stirring until a soft dough forms. Form dough into a log (make sure the ends are equal to the middle in girth), and wrap tightly in plastic. Place in the freezer for up to one hour.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Slice cookie roll into approximately 24 equal pieces. Place cookie slices on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, checking after 15 minutes for doneness.

Shortbread is different from regular cookies, in that it’s best if it isn’t allowed to bake until golden. The other thing that’s different is that you don’t want to eat it warm. Like bread, there are changes that occur when the shortbread cools, and you want the texture to have a sandy fall-apartness that you have to wait for. Troublesome, isn’t it? Not really, but they smell so good when they bake you’ll want to dive in right away.

Allow to cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Serve with tea.

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