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Lemon Shortbread Recipe

This morning my Aunt Kathy and I woke up early to make lemon shortbread. I’ve never made shortbread before, but it’s always been one of my favorite cookies. And I loved the idea of adding lemon zest to my aunt’s standard shortbread recipe.

When we dug out the recipe this morning, I saw that it’s made with brown sugar rather than white sugar. I wasn’t sure if I would like the combination of brown sugar and lemon in the shortbread, so we decided to do an experiment. We made two batches of shortbread, one with brown sugar and one with white sugar. We also used two different types of lemons to see which zest would impart the best flavor. To the brown sugar batch we added the zest of a meyer lemon and to the white sugar batch we added regular lemon zest.

The results of our experiment were this: we prefer regular lemon zest over meyer lemon zest in the cookies and we prefer lemon-flavored shortbread to be made with white sugar. However, I liked the flavor of the brown sugar shortbread so much that it will definitely become my standard non-lemon shortbread recipe.

Lemon Shortbread

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add lemon zest and blend well. By hand, stir in flour a little at a time. Dough will be crumbly, so dump it out onto a counter top or pastry board and work it together by hand until smooth. Pat or roll dough out into a rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into small squares, rectangles or diamonds (whichever you prefer). Arrange cookies on ungreased baking sheet (I use parchment paper for easy cleanup) and bake 20-25 minutes in a preheated 325 degree oven until the bottom edges are just starting to brown.

Here is the recipe for the Brown Sugar Shortbread.

The dough will be crumbly, but just work it together by hand until it’s smooth and holds together.

We shaped the first batch into a circle, but ended up with some tiny funny shaped pieces (they turned out to be good ‘sample’ pieces). Shaping the second batch into a rectangle worked better.

My aunt cut the first batch into diamonds but they were larger than we planned. We ended up cutting them in half and turning them into smaller triangles instead!

We placed the triangles on a parchment lined sheet and ended up baking them for 25 minutes because they were rather thick.

For the second batch, I managed to shape the dough into a rectangle.

I’m not good at cutting diamonds so I just cut the second batch of shortbread into simple squares. I need to practice before trying to cut any other shapes!

The thinner squares baked for 20 minutes at 325 degrees. We removed them when the bottom edges were just starting to color.

The cookies on the left were made with white sugar and the ones on the right were made with brown sugar. Both had lemon zest, but next time I won’t add lemon zest to the brown sugar shortbread.

Overall, we really enjoyed both types of shortbread. The light-colored ones had a delicate buttery lemon flavor while the brown sugar shortbread was richer and slightly more intense. I recommend trying them both!

Here is the recipe for Brown Sugar Shortbread.

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