Drat those cravings. You know how it is. A thought that niggles at the back of your brain, tickling you at odd hours, nudging you in quiet moments, gently clearing the throat, and, if you don't cave in to the craving, it is eventually shoving you in the chest and slapping you upside the chest. Yes, my cravings are not to be trivialized; they're a force to be reckoned with.
My most recent craving was lemon and poppyseed. I'll blame Whole Foods. They have those adorable mini-scones in lemon and poppyseed. Of course, I'd never pay those prices, but still, the idea of lemon and poppyseeds stayed with me, badgered me, and generally made my subconscious pester me until I screamed, "Uncle, uncle!"
Well, I didn't really scream, but I did bake. I pondered scones, muffins, and cookies, and eventually settled on shortbread. I'm normally a soft, squishy cookie kind of gal, but I like the restrained elegance of shortbread. This recipe gave me shortbread that is the perfect companion to a cup of tea of a mug of coffee. Subtly sweet, with a lingering flavor of poppyseeds and tangy lemon on your tongue.
Now that I've got you thinking lemon and poppyseed, you know you want them.....go ahead, give in. It will only get worse if you resist!
Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread Cookies
- adapted from Great Cookies by Carole Walters
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1/2 cup rice flour, spooned in and leveled
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 Tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon oil
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 oz white chocolate, melted, for garnish (optional)*
1- Preheat the oven to 300 deg. F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a 9 -inch square baking pan with a 15-inch square sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
2- Sift the flours and salt together three times. Stir in the poppy seeds and set aside.
3- In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy. Add the lemon zest and lemon oil and mix for 1 minute. Add the sugar gradually, then mix for 1 minute longer, scraping the bowl as needed.
4 - Remove the bowl from the machine and, using a wooden spoon, cut half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until almost incorporated. Work in the remaining flour with the spoon or by hand, adding it in 5 or 6 additions. Gently knead the mixture just until a smooth dough is formed. Be careful not to overwork the dough, as this results in tough cookies.
5- Press the dough evenly into the pan. Be sure the dough is pushed to the corners and is even throughout. Clean the edges of the pan by inserting a spatula in between the dough and the sides of the pan
6- Bake the shortbread for 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. (Keep the oven turned on!)
7- Use the foil to remove the shortbread from the pan to a baking sheet without a rim. Peel back the foil so it releases from the sides of the cookies. Using a long, serrated knife, cut five 1-3/4-inch strips. Turn the foil a quarter turn and repeat the cuts to form 25 squares. Spread the cookies apart and return them to the oven for 10 more minutes to dry and crisp.
8- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
9- (Optional garnish) Pour the tepid melted white chocolate into a small plastic squeeze bootle or a pastry bag fitted with a #2 decorating tip. Move it back and forth over the cookies to create squiggly lines of chocolate. You can also dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the cookies. Let the cookies stand at room temperature until the chocolate has set.
Store the cookies in an airtight container between layers of wax paper for up to 3 weeks.
*The drizzle on the top is just for show, to dress up the cookies for company. Tastewise, it doesn't really need it.