Butter, butter, butter everywhere! The cornerstone of every shortbread is butter and the longer it sits, the more pronounced and fantastic the butter flavor becomes. The challenge is in keeping your hands out of the cookie jar long enough to allow the shortbread to mature. Believe me, it’s challenging! To date, I’ve yet to be able to resist!
I remember my first taste of shortbread, my English teacher gifted each student with a box of Walker’s shortbread for Xmas. At first I thought it was just another butter cookie, but I was wrong. Shortbread is the standard butter cookie after it has grown up, gone to college, and become a sophisticate. It’s what every butter cookie ought to be.
Amazing on its own, shortbread has the unique ability to be even greater with a minor adjustment. Here, I included some lemon zest for a unique twist on an already fantastic treat. The lemon zest provides a refreshing and light taste without overpowering and taking away from the flaky butteriness that constitutes the shortbread. The end result is equally amazing…both in taste and aromatics.
Twice Baked Lemon Shortbread
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Zest of 2 lemons
Turbinado, Demerara or granulated sugar for sprinkling
Equipment: A baking pan with a removable bottom, such as a 9 1/2-inch round tart pan
Grease the pan. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Pat and spread the dough evenly in the pan. Let rest for at least 2 hours, or overnight (do not refrigerate).
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Bake the shortbread for 45 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, leaving the oven on. Lightly sprinkle the surface of the shortbread with sugar. Let the shortbread cool for 10 minutes.
Remove the shortbread from the pan, being careful to avoid breaking it. Use a thin sharp knife to cut it into oblong “fingers”, wedges, or squares. Place the pieces slightly apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put in the oven for 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.