meyer lemon shortbread cookies

I subscribe to a lot of food magazines. My husband would agree, and he’d probably throw in that I subscribe to TOO MANY food magazines. The stacks of magazines scattered throughout my house – on the coffee table, the end tables, under the console table, on the breakfast nook table, and on the kitchen counters – would argue that my husband might very well be right.

I find inspiration between the glossy covers of Fine Cooking and Bon AppΓ©tit. When I read the articles and essays in Saveur, I can’t help but look for photographs taken by Penny De Los Santos, food and travel photographer extraordinaire. Reading articles and recipes in Food and Wine is an indulgence, best done while sitting in my front porch rocking chair with a glass of Riesling in hand.

January issues bug me.

I’m a believer in eating healthy year-round, not just in January, when the magazine editors feature the healthy recipes they’ve been stockpiling all year. I hate to say it, but I’m less inspired and intrigued by recipes featured in these magazines during January than I am the rest of the year. I get bored.

So let’s talk cookies. Not salads and whole grains and lean meats. Cookies.

We can still eat cookies, you know, even though it’s January. One or two won’t hurt. Everything in moderation.

This recipe is just slightly tweaked from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. It’s a terribly easy recipe to prepare. The hardest part for me is trying to refrain from eating too much of the dough before the cookies are baked.

I glazed half the batch with Meyer lemon glaze and left the other half unadorned. The plain cookies, my son’s favorite, are slightly crumbly and subtly sweet with just a hint of Meyer lemon. The glazed version of the cookie was a hit with my husband and daughter. The lemon glaze transforms the shortbread into something entirely different. There was much more brightness and zing to the cookie.

So, if you need a cookie during this month of restraint, you can’t go wrong with one – or two – of these. Made with beautiful, fresh Meyer lemons, these cookies are sure to brighten up any cold January day.

(You may now resume your diet.)

Yield: approx 24 cookies

Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies

This is just a tweak of Ina Garten’s recipe for shortbread, found here, and in her book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I left half the batch unglazed (which made my 4-year old happy) and glazed the other half with the Meyer lemon glaze found here (which pleased my 7 year old and husband).


3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest from 1 Meyer lemon
Meyer lemon glaze [optional]


Preheat oven to 350Β°F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and salt then add them to the butter-sugar mixture. Add the Meyer lemon zest. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3-inch round cookie-cutter or biscuit-cutter. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Optional: Glaze each cookie with Meyer lemon glaze, and allow cookies to chill in the refrigerator until glaze is set.

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25 Responses to “the cake walk, and a lemon layer cake with lemon cream cheese frosting”

  1. 1
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — March 4, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    Beautiful cake, lovely story MJ. You’re a great mum xo

  2. 2
    Melissa // thefauxmartha — March 4, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

    I love the power of a slice of cake. You are one good mama! And just imagine how sad Madeline would have been had you made that in the first place and not won it back. PSβ€”the crumb on that cake looks perfect!

  3. 3
    abby dodge — March 4, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

    Lovely cake.. Lovely story… loving Mom!

  4. 4
    Macaroni Mama — March 4, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

    Hide your head in shame. EVERYONE knows homemade cakes are the “soul” of the cake walk. Glad you made this beautiful cake for my grandchildren, though.

  5. 5
    Leigh — March 4, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

    I feel your shame, although I do not profess to be a fabulous baker like you. I still send Publix cookies to every party request and ignore all the volunteer forms. I’m glad you baked your daughter a cake for home instead. That way it didn’t go to someone who won that unfair game. πŸ˜‰

  6. 6
    Nancie McDermott — March 4, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

    Mighty-Mom in my book. You showed up, and I’ll bet somebody loved that red ladybug cake. Now we all have this beautiful essay and image and the scoop on the cake. I’m giving you a gold star and a no-homework pass.

  7. 7
    Theresa — March 4, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

    A lovely lovely cake! Your daughter is one lucky girl. πŸ™‚

  8. 8
    Aggie — March 4, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

    I bet all the little girls begged for that lady bug cake! πŸ™‚ your homemade cake wouldn’t have been appreciated as much as it was by your two little sweeties at home…I always feel guilt about pretty much everything when it comes to my kids MJ, and I swear, like you, sometimes baking or cooking them something with love kind of undoes all the guilt and makes it all better…

    sending you a mommy hug…and can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks! πŸ™‚

  9. 9
    Renee — March 4, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

    This cake looks splendid. I adore lemon. It should remove all the guilty feelings about the store-bought cake and replace them with guilty feelings about gaining weight after you eat the entire thing. At least, that’s what I’d do.

  10. 10
    Jennie — March 4, 2012 @ 10:23 pm

    MJ, I totally hear you on the barage of emails/volunteer forms/fundraising stuff from school. It’s enough to drive any working parent crazy. The cake looks wonderful. Can’t wait to see you in less than two weeks!

  11. 11
    Jesica@ Pencil Kitchen — March 5, 2012 @ 3:22 am

    When i saw your picture, i went oh bloooody I want this! Well, its better that you lost in the game and made this i guess πŸ˜‰

  12. 12
    myfudo — March 5, 2012 @ 4:42 am

    A splendid and festive cake like this is really a celebration by itself. I love the elegant presenation.

  13. 13
    Aimee @ Simple Bites — March 5, 2012 @ 8:55 am

    Elegant perfectly describes this cake. My mouth is watering for a slice!

  14. 14
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — March 5, 2012 @ 9:54 am

    I can see why you would be disappointed… but this cake looks like a winner to me and I’m glad that baking it and eating it together made you all feel better.

  15. 15
    Cassie — March 6, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    Dessert, especially cake, heals all! I love lemon desserts and this sounds fabulous. Absolutely gorgeous!

  16. 16
    Heidi @foodiecrush — March 6, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

    Thank you Madeline! Without whom I never would have seen your instagram, had the recipe e-mailed to me and then made toot sweet for my Sunday family dinner. It was sooo delicious, even though I ran out of cake flour and only had one brick of cream cheese. But with a couple of substitutions, it was still divine and a hit with the fam. Thank you, thank you!

  17. 17
    Feast on the Cheap — March 7, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

    I’m pretty sure this cake makes up for it, wow. I’m also pretty sure this would be far tastier than any cake you’d win at the carnival πŸ˜‰

  18. 18
    Lucy — March 8, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

    As the mom of 2 grown kids and one almost, I can say there’s never a moment when you sit back and think you’ve done everything just right. You can always think of something you “should” have done. So, I would have felt just as you did! But usually the kids care much less about the things we obsess over than we do. Beautiful lemon cake and beautiful ways of taking care of your family.

  19. 19
    Marla — March 8, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    Sooooo in love with all the lemony bliss in this perfect layer cake!

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  22. 20
    Paula — March 12, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

    I had to laugh at your mom’s comment πŸ™‚ I’m sorry Madeline did not win a prized cake but I commend her for not easily accepting defeat. You were sweet to sooth her feelings (and your unnecessary guilt) by making this great looking cake.

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  25. 21
    kelsey — March 10, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

    Made this for my brother’s birthday today and everyone loved it! So surprised with how dense it was, but still moist! Thanks for sharing!

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