On lemons and sweet spring treats

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!

IMG_3408Meyer Lemon Shortbread (recipe adapted from here)

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  1. Place the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8 minutes or until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. Add the flour and corn starch and beat just until a smooth dough forms.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half.
  5. 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.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Unwrap one of the dough logs (keep the other in the fridge) and slice it into 1cm-thick rounds.
  8. Place onto the prepared baking sheets 5cm (2in) apart and bake for 15-18 minutes or until light golden.
  9. Remove from the oven and cool in the sheets for 5 minutes.
  10. 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:

IMG_3445
Sugar Cookies
 
(recipe modified from Alton Brown’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until light in color.
  3. Add vanilla and almond extracts and egg.  Beat to combine.
  4. 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.
  5. Divide the dough into portions, wrap in waxed paper or parchment, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.
  11. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Chasing away the Monday blues…

with Blueberry Meyer Lemon scones didn’t really work today, but at least the day started (and ended, because yes, it was one of those days) on a sweet, citrus-y and flowery note. I could go on and on about Meyer lemons, but I won’t – suffice it to say that when I spotted them all the way in NYC, it reminded me of how far I was from home and how much I missed California produce.  Now that I’m back, I have access to J’s mother’s tree, which is truly the tree that keeps on giving…Meyer lemons in abundance!  And the largest, most beautiful ones I’ve seen as well!  IMG_3391

Blueberry Meyer Lemon Scones (recipe adapted from here)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 3/4 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tbl (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1-2 tbl Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon peel

Ingredients:

  1. Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 425°F.
  2. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl. Using fingertips, rub in chilled butter until pieces are size of small peas.
  4. Mix 1/2 cup buttermilk, Meyer lemon juice, and finely grated Meyer lemon peel in glass measuring cup.
  5. Pour buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients and stir until dough begins to form (some of flour will not be incorporated).
  6. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and gather together. Fold in blueberries and knead dough briefly, about 5 turns.
  7. Form each dough into ball and flatten into 1-inch-thick disk. Cut each disk into 6 wedges or cut with biscuit cutter into desired shape.
  8. Transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart.
  9. Brush tops with remaining 1/2 tablespoon buttermilk and sprinkle with remaining 3/4 tablespoon sugar.
  10. Bake until scones are golden brown on top and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.