Lemon Clove Shortbreads

Lemon Clove Shortbreads

I may be outing myself as a far greater food nerd than I’d probably care to admit, but there are a few recipes that have played a truly significant role in my life. I’d maybe even go so far as to say they’ve changed it.

I know that sounds outrageously dramatic. And maybe it is. A little. But this is one of those recipes.

The others will undoubtedly pop up on here in the near future, but as this recipe’s flavors were the inspiration for my blog’s title, I decided that I owe it its due. I remember the day I first saw a recipe for lemon clove cookies. I was in a used bookstore, had unearthed a well-used copy of the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, flipped it open, and there it was.



Brilliant, right? Lemons and cloves — what a beautiful, simple pairing. I think that at the time, the genius of it was simply too much for my novice food-brain to handle. It made me happy. It made me want to go home and immediately make them, and then eat them with tea while reading a good book. It made me eager. It made me want to write a recipe that brilliant one day.

And that’s sort of the short version of how I leapt into my decision to go to culinary school.

Truth be told, these cookies aren’t technically shortbreads — but who really cares about technicalities, anyway? Am I right? They’re crisp and buttery, light and crumbly, and taste as amazing as they smell. Seriously.

My recipe is adapted from Chez Panisse’s, but I made some liberal changes, the biggest of which is cornmeal. I adore the texture and kind of earthy sweetness it gives these cookies.



Oh, and I was right. They’re absolutely perfect for curling up with some afternoon tea and a book.

Lemon Clove Shortbreads

Freshly grated zest of 2 lemons
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 heaping teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 sticks of room temperature, unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and cloves. Add half of the zest (so, the zest of one lemon) and work in using your hands, rubbing the zest into the dry ingredients.

In a separate, small bowl, place the sugar and remaining zest. Again, work the zest in by rubbing it into the sugar with your fingers (this helps release the zest’s oils).

Using a standing mixer, cream the butter and lemon-sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until completely incorporated.

Turn the mixer’s speed to low and slowly begin adding the dry ingredients in batches, making sure each batch is incorporated before adding the next.

Turn the dough out and divide it in half. Form each half into a log (about an inch or so in diameter), wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F, and prepare a baking sheet with a silpat or buttered parchment.

Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and slice into cookies, between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Place the cookies at least 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet (they won’t spread much, or rise) and dust with sugar. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until light golden brown.