I love shortbread. I used to carry packets of Walkers cookies in my purse and fuss with the tartan wrapper before movies like a doddering great-aunt, an annoying habit that I've largely phased out thanks to recipes like this that allow me to make my own shortbread. This isn't a traditional Scottish recipe, but it's tasty and simple and results in sandy, buttery, shortbready deliciousness. The lemon and cardamom are completely optional, but the flavors work so very well together in this format.
Base shortbread recipe cribbed from an old Gourmet magazine, recipe here.
Lemon-Cardamom Shortbread Cookies
Makes approximately one dozen cookies
*1 stick (1/2 cup) of good butter, softened
*1/4 cup superfine sugar (you can blitz regular granulated sugar in a food processor for same effect)
*A pinch of salt
*1 cup all-purpose flour
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla
*1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
*Zest from one lemon
Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar together with a mixer on low. Stir together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add in piecemeal to the buttery mixture until a coarse, crumbly dough appears. With as little handling as possible, form dough into a flattish disk (or ball), wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Then, between wax paper roll the dough out to about a 1/4-1/3 inch thickness and cut with your favorite cutter. I used a circular cutter with a 2 1/2 inch diameter, in this particular case. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and pop in the fridge for another 20 minutes or so while the oven preheats to 375. The bake time really depends on how thinly you've rolled the dough, and what diameter the cookies are, but mine usually bake in about 11-13 minutes. Just keep your eye peeled for when the edges begin to brown, and then take them out. Allow to cool to room temperature, and enjoy!