Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cookie Jars :: Lemon Zest Shortbread

Last night, with way too many things on my to-do list, I decided to not do any of them and instead: bake cookies! So much more fun. Well, I rationalized it with the fact that the holidays less than 2 months away so it's really time to start picking/testing cookie recipes. :-)

The truth was that I had bought a new cookie cutter in the morning and could not wait to try it. Especially when I realized that the size fit perfectly into my glass jars! (...yes, I know, I am obsessed with these) But how cute are these glass jars filled with cookies? I wanted a cookie that would keep well for a few days, so I came up with Lemon Zest Shortbread cookie jars. A few jars for us, and a few to share.

Shortbread is the most basic cookie recipe: flour, butter, sugar, and a bit of vanilla. That's it! It's a Scottish tradition, dating back to the 12h century. It's name coming The traditional recipe is 3 parts flour, 1 part sugar, and basically for every cup of flour, 1 stick of butter. This is all about the ingredients, so you need to use good quality butter and pure vanilla extract. When researching shortbreads I found out that butter has a rating system (who knew!). Look on the box and look for a "AA" rating. As for vanilla, I *heart* Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla.

I think it's the perfect holiday cookie... Picture a snowy holiday morning, staring out the window, with a big cup of tea and little shortbread cookies.

PS: I'll warn you... there are alot of pictures of cookies coming up! Sorry, but what better way to start the weekend than cookies? :-)

Enjoy! Happy Friday.

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup fine sugar (or powdered sugar)
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla (pure, not vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
*Optional: Zest of 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the butter and sugar with a hand blender until creamy. In a separate bowl mix the flour and salt. Add the flour and salt to the butter and eggs, along with the vanilla and lemon zest. Continue to mix with a hand blender until the dough has started to come together.

Place the dough on a light floured surface. With your hands shape the dough into a large disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough to 1/4" thick and cut your cookies. You can use a cookie cutter, or use a pairing knife and a ruler and make straight cuts along the dough to get rectangular cookies. To bake, place on top of parchment paper or on a lightly buttered and greased cookie sheet, and into the oven for 20 minutes or until the edges start to brown. (At this point - you could also freeze the dough).

Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and allow them to cool on a rack. I don't own a cookie rack, so I use the rack from my microwave oven. It does the trick!

When the cookies are at room temperature, store them in air tight containers. They will keep for over a week.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea for dunking. :-)

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