Indulge in these decadent lemon shortbread cookies

Cookies so good you won’t believe you just made them

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These lemon shortbread cookies are delicious, zesty and delicate. Sadie Goodman | Cavalier Daily

My great aunt Barbara was a wonderful cook. She had a recipe box chock full of delicious homemade dinners and treats. One of my favorite recipes that my mom recently discovered while rifling through the box was her “Best Lemon Refrigerator Cookies” recipe. 

These cookies are delicious, zesty and delicate. They are perfect for a gathering, go well with tea or coffee and are a great pick-me-up if you’re having a bad day. The flavor is light and mildly sweet — I’ll even eat them for breakfast if I have a fresh batch. The recipe is quite easy to make too!

To make a batch of Barbara’s “Best Lemon Refrigerator Cookies” you need:

1/2 cup of softened butter

1/2 cup of white sugar

2 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup of all purpose flour

2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest

1/8 teaspoon of salt

To be added later:

Sesame seeds

1 lemon, juiced

Start by zesting one to two lemons — this should be plenty since a little zest goes a long way in terms of flavor. Make sure you remove any stickers and wash the lemons with soap and water to remove any pesticides or chemicals added to the peel. To zest a lemon, you can use a zester or a cheese grater. Take just the yellow surface of the rind — the white pith below is bitter and doesn’t contain any of the natural flavor and oils of the yellow rind.

Combine your sugar, flour, zest and salt. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix in the egg yolks, vanilla and butter. Your hands might get a little messy integrating the butter, but don’t worry — it’s totally worth it. 

Once you have a good, sticky consistency, roll the dough into two logs. Make the logs as large or as small in diameter as you want, but I find the larger logs produce better cookies. The larger your log is, the larger your cookies will be. Take these logs and coat them in sesame seeds. This is an optional step, but it adds a nice nutty flavor and a fun texture to the cookies. 

Let the logs sit in the fridge for 15-30 minutes while you heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While the cookies are in the fridge, coat a baking sheet with a thin layer of butter to ensure the cookies don’t stick. Remove the cookies from the fridge and slice them into thin medallions — the thinner the cookies, the crisper they will be.

Place the cookies on the baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. I suggest checking on them at around 10 minutes to make sure they aren’t getting too brown. I also suggest baking your cookies on the top shelf of the oven to ensure they don’t burn. 

When the cookies are golden brown and fragrant they are ready. Take a spatula and loosen them from the baking sheet carefully while they are still hot and soft — this will make sure you can remove them later without breaking any.

Allow the cookies to cool and take the lemon juice from earlier and drip a few drops onto the tops of the cookies. This is also an optional step, but it enhances the flavor and makes the lemon zing really pop. 

This recipe makes a ton of cookies, but any unused dough can be stored in the fridge for up to a week! These cookies bake so quickly, and with the premade dough you can whip out a fresh batch in no time. I hope you enjoy this recipe. It may take a few trials to figure out just how long you’d like to bake them, but I promise, it is worth it. 

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