You can never go wrong with a buttery batch of shortbread cookies. They’re delicious plain, where you get a generous dose of butter flavor, and they can also be a blank canvas for other flavors. This Lemon and Lavender Shortbread is a great example of how a few simple additions can take a shortbread recipe from something good to something special without even trying. It is infused with fresh lemon zest and dried lavender flowers, which add a somewhat sophisticated twist to a simple shortbread.
The shortbread is buttery, tender and not too sweet. You can really taste both the bright lemon and the floral lavender, and the two elements blend well together to taste like spring turned into a cookie. In short, the shortbread is simply delicious. It’s a lovely change of pace from standard shortbread and the flecks of lavender and lemon in the cookies make them look very elegant. The cookies will keep for about a week when stored in an airtight container, which makes them a good candidate for gift-giving, as well as for snacking around the house. If you are going to snack on them yourself, they pair exceptionally well with tea, particularly if you have one that already has citrus notes to it.
This recipe is a variation on my Scottish Shortbread recipe and I make both doughs in a food processor. The food processor is great for this shortbread because you want the texture to be dense and very uniform, which the food processor can accomplish very quickly by finely blending the butter into the rest of the ingredients. You can work by hand, but the process will be much slower because you don’t want to end up with any large chunks of butter, as you would in a pie crust, and it can take a while to rub them down. Dried lavender might not be in stock at your local grocery store, but many specialty stores or stores that carry a wide array of whole spices – as opposed to ground spices – carry it.
Lemon and Lavender Shortbread
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp dried lavender
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
Preheat oven to 350F.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest and dried lavender. Pulse a few times to blend.
Cut butter into large chunks and add to food processor. Whiz for about 1 minute, until dough has a very sandy and starts to clump together. Pour into a 9-inch square pan and spread into an even layer. Use a flat-bottomed glass to press down the dough firmly, creating as smooth a surface as possible.
Score dough lightly with a sharp knife, marking 4 rows by 8 rows of shortbread pieces. Dock the dough with a fork, if desired.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until shortbread is lightly browned all over.
While the shortbread is still hot and still in the pan, use a sharp knife or a bench scraper to cut shortbread all the way through along the lines you scored prior to baking. Allow shortbread to cool completely in the pan once it has been cut.
When cooled, shortbread pieces should break apart very easily. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 32 pieces.