29 May 2012

Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread Squares

It must have something to do with this summery weather we've been having, but lately I've been craving anything and everything lemon. I've been going through vitamin water lemonades at a ridiculous pace, and squeezing lemon onto everything from fruit to water to cream cheese. Unsurprisingly, when I was trying to come up with something to bake for my mom to celebrate her last day of work this spring, I immediately thought of this lemon poppy seed shortbread recipe I'd come across a few days earlier. Particularly when it's hot out, lemony desserts are always so appealing to me. The acidity of the lemon adds a lightness and a freshness that makes it much easier to ignore the loads of butter and sugar that probably aren't so good for that pre-summer bikini-body diet...

That said, I cut down on both the butter and sugar called for in the original recipe, and (after a few trials) these came out exactly as I wanted: perfect little lemony squares, browned on the bottom but soft and buttery inside. I think it's important to use fresh lemon zest if you want that bright acidity - one medium-sized lemon should be more than enough for both the zest and the juice called for here. And though the original recipe didn't include it, I dipped a few in white chocolate - couldn't hurt, right? - and next time, would probably dip even more. The creaminess and sweetness of the chocolate is a wonderful contrast to the sharpness of the lemon. These cookies made a fantastic gift (aren't they adorable??), and the recipe has been officially glued into my recipe book. A new favorite!

14 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon zest
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until smooth.
Add in the vanilla, lemon juice and zest, and beat until combined.
Add in the flour, salt and poppyseeds. Stir until just combined.
Press dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate at least an hour, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350
Roll out the dough between two sheets of wax paper. It will be crumbly at first,
but once it warms up a little should be easy to work with.
Place the flattened dough on a baking sheet and stick in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to firm up.
Remove, and - using a knife or cookie cutter - cut the dough into squares.
Arrange on a baking sheet (I use a silpat, though parchment paper would work too)
Bake 10 - 12 minutes. Watch carefully, the bottoms brown quickly!

20-30 cookies

No comments:

Post a Comment