Have I said anything about lemons recently? No? Well, that changes now with the perfect way to ruin your weight-related New Year’s resolutions: Meyer Lemon Shortbread.
I love shortbread cookies, they are so simple, so easy to make…so easy to eat. When you think about it, a rectangle of shortbread is like a foundational brick of cookie happiness, the cookie stripped down to it’s bare essentials – fat, carbs, and sugar.Shortbread was not something we ate in my family growing up, I learned about it from a lovely, older neighbor named Hazel who lived across the street from my childhood best-friend. Hazel took my friend Sarah under her wing, and she would sometimes have us both over for cookies. Once, when Sarah and I were about 9, Hazel showed us how to make shortbread, and then she proceeded to blow my little-kid mind by lining her baking sheet with two pieces of crisp white typing-paper instead of cooking spray, the way my mom did. Paper in the kitchen? Was that even allowed? Then she blew my tiny mind again by writing out her shortbread recipe for me on yet another sheet of typing-paper. This paper was a Swiss Army knife! Today there is usually a roll of parchment paper in my cupboard, but I always bake shortbread on copy paper in honor of practical, multi-tool-loving Hazel.
I like baking easy cookie recipes that don’t require much extra effort or equipment (bonus points to any recipe that can be done in one bowl). This recipe is nice and simple, it calls for melted butter, one bowl, and cutting the cookies into shape with a knife instead of using cookie cutters.
1 cup and 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
1/4-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
Melt the butter and mix it in a bowl with the sugar, vanilla, salt, zest and lemon juice until everything is combined. Add the flour to the bowl and mix with a large spoon until a dough is formed and all the flour is incorporated. Form the dough into a clump, wrap it in plastic and chill it for at least 20 minutes.
When the dough is chilled, sprinkle flour on a clean surface, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Carefully roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Trim the edges off the rectangle, and cut the dough into smaller 3 by 1-inch rectangles.
Place two pieces of typing paper side-by-side on a large baking sheet (18 by 13 inches), and place the cookies on the sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool to room temperature. Eat the cookies.
Time to Make
(10 minutes to collect ingredients and mix, 20 minutes to chill the dough, 15 minutes to roll out and cut the dough, 15 minutes to bake.)
Sugar: 12 cents
Flour: 20 cents
Vanilla: 14 cents
Lemon Zest: Free
Lemon Juice: Free
Total: $1.70 for about 6 ounces of cookies.
For comparison, 5.3 ounces of Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread is $3.49 at my local Trader Joe’s right now. The cost could also be cut down dramatically by using regular unsalted butter, I used a pricier organic butter because it’s what I happened to have on hand.
My main goal with this recipe was to use up another a lemon, but the cookies are equally delicious without it. Omit one tablespoon of flour if you want to skip the lemon.