The weather has been so unusual around the country with record-high temperatures in many places. It seems odd to recommend Slice and Bake Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread to nibble with a cup of tea when it’s warm enough in many places to swim. But that’s what I am suggesting. You know it will get cold eventually and that trend is starting now.
After all the frosted and sprinkled cookies of Christmas, I look forward to paring back at the beginning of the new year. That hardly means no cookies; just simpler treats. These slice-and-bake cookies would be a tasty addition to your New Year’s Eve table. You’ll be pleased at how quickly they get gobbled up. Far be it from me to suggest you might need something gentle on the stomach on New Year’s Day, but if you do, these light shortbread cookies are the ticket.
Unlike traditional shortbread, Slice and Bake Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread are crisper and lighter. Perhaps that’s because I sliced them fairly thin. If you want plumper cookies, slice the dough thicker.
Besides being delicious, these cookies will win a regular spot on your rotation for ease of preparation. Yes, the logs of dough have to be chilled but that only makes them easier to work with. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for a few months. Gee, that would get you almost to Easter (March 27 in 2016). I think they would be be a good spring treat, too.
Play with the mix-ins. I like the poppy seed and lemon combination but you could sub orange zest and mini chocolate chips; coconut extract and chopped macadamia nuts, or even dried chopped cherries and almond extract. The basic recipe is a blank canvas. But there’s nothing plain about these cookies. Make a batch to ring in the new year.
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of 2 large lemons
- Scant ¼ cup poppy seeds
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla extract, followed by the salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add flour, beating just until it incorporated.
- Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1¼ inches around and about 13 inches. Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.)
- Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about ⅓ inch thick. (You can make the cookies thicker if you’d like; just bake them longer.) Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about ½ inch space between them.
- Bake the cookies for 9 to 10 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.