lemon-thyme shortbread cookies

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This was my first attempt at making shortbread cookies, and they turned out great! It was a little unusual working with a chalky dough that is more fragile than the traditional flexible dough, but the end results are well worth the extra effort. I love all shortbread, but the thyme and lemon zest in this recipe really makes it stand out.

This recipe called for some special utensils that I didn’t have, like a pastry blender and a pastry wheel, but I substituted things I had. Instead of a pastry blender, I used a fork to mix in the butter with the dry mixture. I confess it is an arm workout, but it can be done. Using a pastry blender will make your life easier.

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And I didn’t have a pastry wheel so I just used cookie cutters. It was a little difficult trying to remove the cookie cutter without breaking the dough, causing the shapes to be not as well defined as I would have liked, but they still turned out pretty well. And I would recommend cutting the cookies closer together than I did. I left a lot of space between them so I didn’t yield as many cookies as I should have. But all these notes are about presentation. No matter what utensils you use to make these, they will taste delicious!

I took these cookies to work for a mini tea party I threw on Friday afternoon. I love bringing people together, especially over tea and cookies. I even brought some of my great-grandmother’s china to work for the mini party.  Is it just me, or do things just taste better when they’re served on china? Paper plates and utensils just don’t cut it. Happy baking!

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Note: I recommend cutting these cookies a little closer together than I did so it yields more cookies. Also, these cookies turned out well with me just using a cookie cutter, but the shapes would be cleaner and more defined with a pastry wheel.

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Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 cup butter

coarse sugar (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, stir together flour, powdered sugar, cornmeal, thyme, and lemon zest.  Drizzle in the honey but do not stir it. With a pastry blender or a fork, add the butter and beat until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling together. Knead the dough until smooth; shape into a ball.

On an ungreased cookie sheet, pat mixture into a 9-inch square and ensure the dough is about a quarter inch thick. Using a pastry wheel, sharp knife, or cookie cutter, cut dough into desired shapes. Do not remove the dough surrounding the shapes as the surrounding dough bakes alongside the cut shapes in the oven. Sprinkle with course sugar. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies starts to brown.

Remove from the oven. While warm, use the same utensil to cut the shortbread in the same spots as before baking, and cool the cut pieces on a plate, paper towel or, if you have one, a cookie rack. Drizzle honey over each cookie and garnish by sprinkling the thyme on top.

(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, June 2014; bhg.com)

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