Monday, February 14, 2011

Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies

Yesterday, I used my second out of 40 lemons to make a batch of lemon basil shortbread cookies to share with a birthday boy and some friends.

1 cup white sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, near room temperature
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus slightly more, if needed – see below)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly and finely chopped sweet basil leaves

1)  Let the butter soften to room temperature, then cut them into chunks and add them, along with the sugar, to the bowl of  a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well mixed.

2) Add the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and basil, and beat on low until well mixed.

3)  Sift the flour and salt together, then start gradually adding it to the contents of the mixer bowl while the mixer running on low.  (I spooned the flour in slowly to prevent the mixer from spitting flour everywhere.)

Note:  Start with the 3 1/2 cups of flour,  but if that is not enough to pull the dough cleanly off the sides of the  bowl (you should not have any loose bits) sticking to the bowl – then  add just a sprinkle at a time until it does.

4)  Pull all the dough out of the mixer bowl and mold into a thick disc.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  I like to roll out the dough in between to sheets of parchment paper so that it's already on the thin side before going into the refrigerator.  This makes it a lot easier to roll out the dough after it's firmed up.

5)   Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out so that it is about  1/2″ thick.  (If you left the dough in the fridge overnight, you may  have to give it half an hour or so before it’s able to be rolled out).  If you like thinner shortbreads, roll out the dough to somewhere between 1/4" and 1/2" and adjust the baking time accordingly.

6)  Use your favorite cookie cutter and cut the dough into cookies.

7)  Incorporate all the excess dough back into a ball, then a disc, then  roll out and repeat the cookie cutting.  If the dough starts to become  greasy, put it back in the fridge for about half an hour.

8)  Place the cookies directly onto a baking sheet, no greasing required.  In an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees, bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, until the edges start to brown nicely.

I baked my cookies in a small convection oven on the regular bake setting.  I baked the thicker 1/2" inch cookies for about 18 minutes and the thinner cookies for about 15 minutes for slightly browned edges.

9)   Wait for about a minute, then carefully remove the cookies onto a  cooling rack.

This recipe was adapted from one that I found on TheShoebox

The lemon and basil flavors are subtle but noticeable.  I think next time, I'll add a tad bit more lemon juice and lemon zest.


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