Happy Friday, friends!
Let’s chat about holiday baking. Specifically cookies. Do you have a list you stick to every year? Or do you like to try lots of new cookie recipes? I tend to stick mostly to our family favorites, with a few new cookies thrown in, and I always start with these chewy ginger molasses cookies.
Shortbread cookies make many appearances this time of year – typically the roll out, cut out, slice-off-the-log sort – but this week, after coming across this recipe, I was suddenly craving thick, chewy, super buttery, Scotch-style shortbread squares.
So I made a pan of lemony shortbread, took just one lousy picture, and then, we couldn’t stop eating it. After we demolished the whole darn batch in less than two days, I decided it best to file this gem away as shortbread perfection, and not make it again until next season, because I have zero self-control when it comes to buttery, floury sweet things and there are so many more to come between now and January.
Shortbread may not be the most photogenic of baked treats, but the flavors here are anything but boring, and I hope that the plain appearance won’t dissuade you from trying these buttery, crumbly shortbread bars tinged with vanilla and fragrant Meyer lemon zest. Trust me when I say that you’re going to really love these.
The recipe is disarmingly simple, and the ingredients list is short: sugar, butter, flour, salt, vanilla and lemon zest. You probably have everything you need, right now, in your pantry. Well, you may need to borrow a bit of butter from a neighbor – this luscious shortbread requires three full sticks!
I was excited to find a few small, vibrant Meyer lemons at the grocery store, which I would recommend using here if you can find them, as they tend to have a sweeter and more pronounced lemon flavor than regular lemons. Or use any other citrus zest you’d like (or none at all), but be sure to rub the lemon zest together with the sugar for a few minutes to really bring out the bright citrus flavor.
Have a great weekend!Print
- 3/4 cups pure cane sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 1–1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 3–1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch square baking pan with butter. Line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl. Use your fingers to massage the zest into the sugar for a minute or two, until fragrant and completely incorporated.
- Add the butter to a stand-up mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 1 minute), scraping down the bowl with a spatula, as needed. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
- Add the flour, and mix on low speed until just combined. The dough will be thick and clumpy.
- Press the dough into an even layer in the prepared pan. Prick with the flat end of a wooden skewer, every half-inch or so.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until just golden. Remove from the oven and let cool 10-15 minutes before slicing into bars.