Monday, February 27, 2012

Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Cookies

Let's talk Downton Abbey for a minute.  Trust me, it's relevant to these cookies.  I am obsessed in a major way.  See, I love a good period drama.  And this isn't just drama, though there's plenty of it!  The great Maggie Smith makes me laugh with just about every scene she's in with her snark and utter snobbery.  And the fashion, oh me, oh my.  Sequins and beading and hats with the occasional fur piece.  I'd like to take this moment to clarify that I myself do not buy fur, but if I stumbled across a vintage piece I'd be all over that business.  Season 1 is on Netflix, and Season 2 is still on PBS for a few more days.  I don't want to give away details, but I think the way they've fleshed out certain characters (O'Brien in particular) was smart.  I haven't finished the second season yet, but I watched two episodes last night when I only meant to watch one.  It's absolutely captivating.

I think these cookies are the perfect accompaniment to a cuppa and a show about the lives of British aristocracy and their servants.  They straddle the line between sweet and savory with the addition of thyme and are perfect for a sunny (or cloudy) afternoon.

You'll need: all-purpose flour, sugar, lemon zest, salt, lemon extract, thyme, and butter (not pictured).  How did I forget to include the butter in the pictures?  It's one of the reasons shortbread is so good!  When I was editing the pictures I had the feeling something was missing.  Um, yeah.  Anyhow, you'll need a cup of butter.
Chop up your thyme leaves.
Cream the butter until it's fluffy, then add the sugar.  Beat until the sugar is fully incorporated.
Add the thyme and lemon extract and zest the lemon over the bowl.
Stir it up with a rubber spatula.  Don't you love the speckled look it has?
Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl.  Start beating it in gradually on a low speed, unless you like wearing flour.
When it's just incorporated, I recommend putting the dough in the freezer for a few minutes.  It'll make it a little easier to handle.
Pat out the dough on a lightly floured surface.  You can use a rolling pin, but I found my hands worked just as well.  You want the dough to be about 1/2" thick
Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as possible.  You can pat out the dough once more, but I wouldn't do more than that.  Don't throw away the scraps though!  I had enough left over to make one more rather alternative looking cookie.  Waste not, want not.
After they've baked, set them on a wire rack to cool completely.  They don't really change their appearance after having baked, aside from maybe a little browning around the edges.
They're really just so good.  My sister and I ate about seven cookies between the two of us in two days.    Oh, and my tea?  Lipton.  Because I'm fancy like that.

Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Cookies (makes 12 cookies)
Adapted from Southern Living Cookbook

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/8 tsp lemon extract
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tbs lemon zest

  • Preheat oven to 275º.  Combine flour and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, cream butter until fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat to combine.  Stir in lemon extract, chopped thyme, and lemon zest.  Gradually beat in the flour on low speed until just incorporated.  
  • Chill dough in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.  Pat out chilled dough on a floured surface to 1/2" thick.  Cut out cookies with a 3-inch cutter.  Pat out the scraps once and cut out cookies.  Additional scraps may be baked without cutting with the cookie cutter.  
  • Bake 43-45 minutes or until the cookies have browned a little on the edges.  Let cool on wire racks.  Serve cool with tea.

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