It’s so interesting to see how the palate evolves as we age, and how things that may appeal to us as adults really did not hold much allure when we were younger. I was reminded of this last weekend when I was trying to decide what to bake to bring to a friend’s son’s birthday party. Her son is allergic to eggs, so I wanted to bring something egg-less and spring-y that he might still be able to try. Fortunately, she is also a wonderful mother/cook/baker, so she has already figured out ways to bake him yummy treats sans eggs, including his super-cute Cars-themed birthday cupcakes.
I settled on lemon shortbread (he likes citrus!) and more conventional sugar cookies to provide both options for those with and without allergies. I’m not sure how the kiddos responded to the lemon shortbread, since I eventually realized that the humble-looking shortbread is not as appealing a cookie to them as something w/ melty chocolate or drizzled with luscious icing. =(
For those adults looking for a bright, lemon-y treat, however, these lemon shortbread cookies are just the thing!
Meyer Lemon Shortbread (recipe adapted from here)
- 2/3 cup (150g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (55g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup (60ml) Meyer lemon juice
- finely grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups + 1 tablespoon (255g) all purpose flour, sifted
- 2 tablespoons corn starch, sifted
- 2/3 cup (94g) additional confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- Place the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8 minutes or until pale and creamy.
- Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla and beat until combined.
- Add the flour and corn starch and beat just until a smooth dough forms.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half.
- Place each half onto a large piece of parchment paper and form into a 20cm (8in) long log. Wrap well in the paper and refrigerate for 1 ½ hours or until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Unwrap one of the dough logs (keep the other in the fridge) and slice it into 1cm-thick rounds.
- Place onto the prepared baking sheets 5cm (2in) apart and bake for 15-18 minutes or until light golden.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the sheets for 5 minutes.
- Gently toss the warm shortbreads in the extra icing sugar and allow to cool completely on wire racks.
And for those who haven’t quite let go of their inner child (::raises hand::), here is a recipe for super easy sugar cookies that look wonderful (and taste great!) when cut into playful spring shapes and decorated for Easter:
Sugar Cookies (recipe modified from Alton Brown’s recipe)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
- Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Cream together butter and sugar until light in color.
- Add vanilla and almond extracts and egg. Beat to combine.
- Gradually add flour, beating just until the mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. If it seems too stiff, wet hands, turn out the dough and finish kneading by hand.
- Divide the dough into portions, wrap in waxed paper or parchment, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar.
- Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking.
- Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on parchment paper or silicone baking mat, and bake for 6-8 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.
- Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.
- Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.