These Lemon Shortbread Cookies Taste Like Pure Sunshine
2024/02/23

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Indulge in fresh citrus no matter the season by baking a batch of lemon shortbread cookies. Infused with plenty of lemon zest and juice, these offer a burst of bright, buttery sunshine with every bite. The rich and delicate texture of this cookie makes it the perfect companion to a steaming cup of , but it's also a delicious to serve with before the big . Even on the rainiest spring day, these cookies serve as a reminder that bright flowers are on their way.

What happens if you don’t chill lemon shortbread dough before baking?

Chilling the dough before baking is a crucial step that shouldn't be skipped when making these cookies.

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Refrigerating the dough solidifies the butter within the dough which creates a tender and crumbly shortbread. Just like a , the goal is to keep the butter from melting before the cookies are baked. If the butter in the dough starts to melt too soon in the hot oven, the cookies will likely spread, losing their delicate shape and becoming tough. Not chilling the dough could also cause the cookies to come out heavy and oily due to the melted butter saturating the dough too early. 

Do you need to use a cookie stamp to make lemon shortbread cookies?

If you don’t have a or a special , these cookies will still be delicious and beautiful! Use a toothpick or a fork to poke holes in the cut dough before baking to give the cookies that characteristic shortbread look.

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Or, leave the tops of the cookies smooth! Whether they are cut into rounds, squares, or any other fun shape that might be lying around from the holidays, they will still be lovely, especially once they're brushed with a sweet-tart lemon glaze.

Can you make lemon shortbread cookies in advance?

Since the dough needs to be chilled before it is baked, it can hang out in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. After the cookies are baked and glazed, they can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week. The glaze protects the cookie and keeps it nice and tender, even after a few days!

2 1/2 c.

all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and stamping

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1/4 c.

cornstarch

1 c.

salted butter, cubed and softened

3/4 c.

granulated sugar

2 tbsp.

lemon zest

2 tsp.

fresh lemon juice

1 tsp.

vanilla extract

1 c.

powdered sugar

1 tbsp.

salted butter, melted

2 tbsp.

fresh lemon juice

Step  1 For the shortbread: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cornstarch. Step  2 In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest over medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the bottoms and sides of the bowl and beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Step  3 With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until just combined after each addition.

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Step  4 On a lightly floured work surface, place the dough. Divide the dough in half and form into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Step  5 Place one oven rack in the upper third of the oven and a second oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Step  6 Working with 1 disk of dough at a time and keeping the second disk refrigerated, lightly flour a work surface. Roll the dough out to ¼-inch thick. Press a floured cookie stamp into the dough to make an impression. Use a 2- to 3-inch cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles.

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Using a thin spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Refrigerate the scraps. Step  7 Bake until the tops are dry and the bottoms begin to turn golden, 9 to 10 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough and scraps, rerolling only once for smooth cookies. Step  8 For the glaze: In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, melted butter, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Add the remaining lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the icing falls off the whisk in a fluid stream and the fallen ribbon of icing holds its shape for only a few seconds before sinking back into the bowl of icing.

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If the glaze is still not thin enough, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Step  9 Working with one cookie at a time, use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of glaze onto each cookie. If the pastry brush is leaving behind too many streaks or the glaze feels too thick, whisk in another teaspoon of water. Step  10 Allow the glazed cookies to set for 15 minutes. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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