It’s summer. It’s hot. My poor little oven groans every time I feel the culinary call. “Again?” it says. “Can’t we just pop in a Christmas movie and snack on a pack of Oreos?”
“Oh, little oven,” I reply. “These are the days life lessons are made of. We must put in the effort, even when we feel zapped by the sun. No day should be wasted when lemons are near.” And so, with that, we bake.
Clearly the heat is causing hallucinations, as my frequency of communicating with kitchen appliances is decidedly less in the winter. But I suppose even in a heat-induced state, there is truth to be found in ye olde “When life gives you lemons” adage. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that summertime is lousy with lemons (and I mean lousy in the loveliest sense of the word). It must be nature’s way of reminding us that if we are patient, the seasons to follow are sure to feel as refreshing as the taste of summer’s citrus.
Lemon is undoubtedly my go-to ingredient in the summer, largely because it packs that natural cool-down effect. These lemon shortbread cookies (discovered through a cookie search on Pinterest) are like tiny bursts of cool, sweet goodness, chased by a blast of lemony love. After they’ve baked and cooled completely, stick them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve them. The added chill from the fridge makes them extra irresistible and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. So good, even my oven forgives me.
From Technicolor Kitchen (as taken from Donna Hay magazine)
• 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• finely grated zest of 2 lemons
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 3/4 cups, plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Cream butter and 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixture until super light and creamy, about 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, and mix until combined. Add the vanilla, and beat until combined.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet, and mix until just combined (overmixing can lead to tough cookies — and not the street-smarts kind).
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide it in half on two separate sheets of parchment paper. Form each half into a log about 8 inches long (I like to square off the edges so my cookies have a fun shape). Wrap the logs in the parchment paper, and chill for about 1 ½ hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Unwrap one of the dough logs, and slice into 1-centimeter-thick cookies. Place the cookies on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart, and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the edges barely begin turning golden (the bottoms should be golden as well).
Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then roll the still-warm cookies in the remaining 2/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar until they’re completely coated. Cool them the rest of the way on a wire rack. Serve room temperature or chilled (chilled is the best!). Makes about 40 cookies.
Are baking through the heat wave or managing to survive on store-bought or no-bake goodies? What’s your favorite recipe for the steamy summer months? Do tell!