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Lemon Lovers Shortbread Cookies

'Tis the season for eating cookies with abandon, which also means it's Cookie Exchange season. I love my Vancouver Island group of friends who bake up a storm every year, then get together for appetizers, drinks and cookie eating and exchanging.

I nearly didn't participate this year, as I've had a roller coaster life lately, losing both my grandparents Nick & Jessie and my fluffy little cat Sausage in the past few months. But I knew that our annual cookie exchange would help get me back into the festive spirit, so I called up my friend Sarah who was also on the fence about baking this year, and we decided to share the baking load and resulting cookie haul from the exchange.

I decided to make a bright and happy cookie this year to cheer up my mood, and had fun working out this Lemon Lovers Shortbread Cookie recipe. It's a buttery, luscious cookie - not too sweet with a zingy drizzle of lemon frosting and sprinkling of sunny lemon sugar. It's also really easy to put together, bake and decorate but looks both fancy and festive without much effort. I must happily and humbly add that this recipe won "Best Tasting Cookie" at our exchange.

Notes on ingredients: This cookie can be boldly flavoured with lemon or gently scented with lemony essence. The recipe below will give you a perfectly lemony cookie with a bit of citrus tang to the dough, but you can double the citrus and use a whole lemon's worth of juice and zest in the recipe for an intensely citrus cookie, which is just as delicious and very unique. I've also noted a "lightly lemony" version of the recipe, which omits the juice in the dough. This recipe also calls for corn starch, which creates a very fine/tender texture to the crumb, this can be left out for a firmer bite to your cookies.


Lemon Lovers Shortbread Cookies

Makes 2 dozen shortbread cookies

Shortbread dough:

1 cup of butter, room temperature

1 cup of white sugar

2 cups of flour

1/4 cup corn starch

1/2 teaspoon salt

zest of 1/2 a lemon, finely zested

juice of 1/2 a lemon (omit for Lightly Lemony cookies)


Lemony Frosting Drizzle:

2 cups of icing sugar

Juice of 1 lemon


Lemon Sugar: (optional)

1 cup white sugar

5-10 drops of yellow food colouring

Zest of 1/2 a lemon, finely zested


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Begin by sifting the flour, cornstarch and salt into a bowl, set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add lemon juice and zest, beat until fully incorporated.

On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar until dough comes together in pea-sized crumbs.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper on the counter and add 1/3 of the dough. Form into a log, wrap tightly, then press down into a brick shape, approximately 2 inches across and 1 inch deep. Wrap tightly in extra plastic or paper, and place cookie 'bricks' in the fridge for 1 hour to allow the dough to firm up. At this point dough can be saved for up to two weeks in the fridge, or frozen and defrosted to slice for baking.

Using a sharp knife and cutting board, slice the dough into 1 cm thick cookies, and place one inch apart on a greased or parchment paper-covered baking sheet. The cookies will puff and spread slightly, so don't crowd them too close.

Bake for 13 minutes, until browned on the edged. Place on cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

To make the Lemon Frosting, whisk together 2 cups icing sugar and the juice of one lemon until smooth and thickened. You're looking for a thick drizzle-able texture, add more sugar to thicken or more juice to thin.

To make the Lemon Sugar, mix 1 cup of white sugar with 5-10 drops of yellow food colouring (more = bright colour) and the zest of 1 lemon.

Drizzle the the frosting over the cookies using a fork or spoon with a quick 'diagonal back-and-forth' motion.

Let the frosting set for a minute, then sprinkle over the Lemon Sugar. Let frosting set completely.

Store in an air-tight container.

Happy cookie making!



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