Spring weather is such a joy. (Aside from the weather-induced allergies, that is.) Once it starts to warm up, I always start thinking about fresher ingredients, get togethers with family and friends, and the joyously inevitable baby and bridal showers. In the spring and summer, I like to plan menus with smaller portions and lighter fare. Often, a compilation of hors d'oeuvres and finger foods is just the ticket
The lemon flavor in this shortbread is subtle and the lavender isn't overpowering, as it can so often be. The cornstarch gives them a slightly crispy crumb and the sugar on top lends the perfect amount of sweetness. They'd be perfect for a ladies' lunch, bridal shower, or an afternoon spent all fresco with iced tea, wine, or champagne. Hooray spring!
adapted from Gale Gand
8 TBSP (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 c. plus 4 tsp. vanilla sugar (plain will work, too)
zest of one lemon
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 TBSP dried or fresh lavender flowers, plus more for garnish
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until soft. Add 1/4 c. sugar and lemon zest and mix until incorporated.
3. Stir together the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix at low speed just until the ingredients are almost incorporated. Add the lavender and mix until the dough starts to come together.
4. Flour a work surface, turn the dough onto it, and knead it 5 to 10 times, to bring the dough together and smooth it out.
5. Reflour the work surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a little less than 1/4-inch thick to fit an 8 by 8-inch square baking pan lined with parchment. To transfer to the pan, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, lift it up, and unroll into the pan. Alternately, press the dough thoroughly into the pan with your fingers.
6. Using a pique-vite (dough docker) or a fork, prick the shortbread all over to prevent any buckling or shrinking. Sprinkle the surface evenly with 2 tsp. of the remaining sugar.
7. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, deflate the dough by knocking the pan once against the oven rack then rotate the pan to ensure even cooking and a flat surface.
8. Bake 10 to 12 minutes more, until golden all over and very lightly browned. As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the surface evenly with the remaining 2 tsp. of sugar. Let cool about 5 minutes.
9. Using a very sharp knife, cut into 3 rows by 5 rows making about 1 1/2-inch by 3-inch bars. Let cool completely in the pan. Remove from the pan and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.