Make Ahead

Meyer Lemon-Olive Shortbread

February  6, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Makes 1 8x8 pan, cut into as many pieces as you like
Author Notes

My husband and I are going to Portugal in May, so, for inspiration, I got David Leite’s wonderful new book: The New Portuguese Table. In it he has a recipe for sweet lemon and black olive wafers –cookies—that contain both lemon and olive. His are… well, let’s say they’re rustic looking. I love the idea of a cookie that has both lemon and olives in it, and wanted to see if I could make them… well, let’s say more like cookies. So I decided to make shortbread instead of wafers. I adapted Alice Medrich’s recipe for twice baked shortbread. She says that the secrets to tender, buttery, crunchy shortbread are letting the dough rest in the pan for at least two hours (or overnight) before baking and adding a second baking-- to toast the cookies slightly for extra flavor and crunch. What I like about her technique is that the dough comes together with very little mixing, and is very easy to spread in the baking pan. When the dough rests at room temperature, the melted butter firms up and the flavors all meld together. - drbabs —drbabs

Test Kitchen Notes

Drbabs's recipe fuses a great technique and a wonderful flavor combination. The shortbread is crumbly and toasty. The flavors are balanced, highlighting why the combination of olive and citrus works. The salty bites of mild olives work are a smart addition to the sweet shortbread. —Stephanie Bourgeois

What You'll Need
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar?
  • ?1/4 teaspoon kosher or flaky sea salt
  • 1/4 cup mild oil-cured black olives (about 10 medium sized), pitted, rinsed, drained, finely chopped, and dried in a tea towel
  • 2 tablespoons meyer lemon zest (from about 4 medium-sized lemons) or 1 tablespoon regular lemon and 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) all-purpose flour?
  • ~1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top of the cookies
  1. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil then butter the insides.
  2. In a large (not nonstick) saucepan, melt the butter and let it cook until it is just starting to brown and become fragrant. Keep warm.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar, lemon zest, olives and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Pat and spread the dough evenly in the pan. Let rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  4. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Bake the shortbread for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and increase oven temperature to 325. Lightly sprinkle the surface of the shortbread with Turbinado sugar. Let the shortbread cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the shortbread from the pan, being careful not to break it. (It will be very soft and fragile.) Use a thin sharp knife to cut it into oblong fingers, wedges, or squares. Place the pieces slightly apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put them back into the oven for 15-20 minutes. They will still be soft and crumbly, but will be golden brown on the edges. Cool thoroughly on a rack.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • raychalz
  • PRST
  • herbidacious
  • Kitchen Butterfly
    Kitchen Butterfly
  • WinnieAb

40 Reviews

raychalz September 8, 2016
I made these last night and they are everything I dreamed of! Note - didn't have any Meyer lemons not oranges, so I used 4T regular lemon rind, Also got impatient while waiting for the dough to rest and probably only let it rest 40 minutes - and they still turned out delicious, crunchy, but also soft. Thanks for the recipe!
drbabs September 8, 2016
Wow, I haven't made them in such a long time! I'm so happy you liked them.
PRST April 9, 2013
Have you tried your recipe with olive oil instead of the butter? I think the combo of the olive oil, lemon and olives plus the texture and look is what makes David's "wafers" shine.
drbabs April 10, 2013
I haven't. I actually set out to make a more conventional shortbread cookie, but with the same flavor combination that he uses in his wafers, so I used butter instead.
herbidacious October 17, 2012
Hello I would like (love) to make these but am a little confused about the oil cured olives. Can I just check that these are ones that are dry cured in salt then steeped in oil?
drbabs October 17, 2012
Yes I think that's right. (I haven't made these in a while. I made them with olives in oil that were in the olive section of my grocery store.) I hope you enjoy them!
herbidacious October 18, 2012
Thanks! I will have a go this weekend!
herbidacious October 17, 2012
Hello I would like (love) to make these but am a little confused about the oil cured olives. Can I just check that these are ones that are dry cured in salt then steeped in oil?
Kitchen B. February 11, 2011
Love, love, love these. For sure I'll be bringing back Meyer lemons and key limes when I go to the States in March.........for the first time! So excited!
drbabs February 11, 2011
Wow--your 1st time in the states! Where will you be going? Can we organize a Food52 meetup?
WinnieAb February 9, 2011
LOVE the sound of these!
drbabs February 10, 2011
Thank you, Winnie.
luvcookbooks February 9, 2011
dr. babs, i haven't been keeping up b/o work busyness but dropped by recipes to see what was new. now i have a new recipe AND 2 new cookbooks to look out for, very inspiring! look forward to hearing about portugal.
drbabs February 10, 2011
Thanks, luv! Barnes and Noble has a coupon for 15% off one cookbook:
(Sorry to feed your addiction...)
gingerroot February 8, 2011
YUM! Beautiful and I bet they are delicious. So cool that David Leite posted here!
drbabs February 9, 2011
Thanks--yes, it made my day!
Lizthechef February 8, 2011
Hopelessly behind, I just found your lovely recipe! What a dream to have the author comment!!
drbabs February 9, 2011
Hi Liz--hope you are OK. Yes, David Leite's commenting was so exciting!
Midge February 8, 2011
I bet these are delicious! Look forward to seeing more Portugal-inspired recipes from you.
drbabs February 9, 2011
Thanks--we're looking forward to going!
Sagegreen February 9, 2011
I was able to tour the Algarve, which is so inspiring. So many specialties to discover! Looking forward to more recipes, too.
healthierkitchen February 7, 2011
Just beautiful!
drbabs February 7, 2011
:) Thanks--please let me know if you make them!
dymnyno February 7, 2011
These sound amazing! What part of Portugal are you traveling? (our winery intern is from Portugal)
drbabs February 7, 2011
Thanks! I know we're going to Lisbon and Algarave--I'd have to look at the intinerary to remember the rest.
TheWimpyVegetarian February 7, 2011
These look amazingly delicious. I love shortbread and love the ingredients you have here. How incredibly cool that David Leite responded so warmly to your recipe. I'm going to have to look into his cookbook now! And on Alice Medrich - I'm a huge fan of hers. I was lucky enough to meet her and take a few classes from her a couple years ago. She is amazingly detailed in how she approaches everything and her instructions, I've found, have always been dead on accurate for technique and flavor. I love her books. Have a wonderful trip to Portugal!!!
drbabs February 7, 2011
Thanks, Susan. Yes, David Leite's comment is a huge thrill for me! And I'm jealous that you were able to take classes from Alice Medrich--that must have been amazing!
Rivka February 8, 2011
Weighing in to say a) this recipe looks awesome; b) I, too, love Alice Medrich; and c) how cool that David Leite commented!
Stockout February 7, 2011
How exciting for you....on both. A trip to Portugal and a wonderful comment from the author of the cookbook that inspired this recipe. Kinda kewl, huh? Day doesn't get any better then this. Great recipe!!
drbabs February 7, 2011
Way cool...thanks!
David L. February 7, 2011
Wonderful adaptation! I have to try it. How I wish I could have made them more cookie-like in the book, but I had to hew to the traditions of cookie (biscoito) baking in Portugal. But you've opened up whole world for the ingredients. Thanks!
drbabs February 7, 2011
I can't even tell you how excited I am that you noticed this and that you commented on my adaptation of your recipe--thank you so much. I LOVE your book. It is such a wonderful introduction to the cuisine of Portugal-- so personal and welcoming. We are very much looking forward to our trip in the spring.
AntoniaJames February 6, 2011
Oh this is too funny. Brilliant minds obviously think alike. You were posting this as I was reaching into my cheese drawer, to see if I had some cream cheese, also to make a shortbread, which I did. I'll post mine, but won't enter it . . . . .;o)
drbabs February 7, 2011
Can't wait to see it! (You should enter it also!)
sticksnscones February 6, 2011
I can't wait to try these!
drbabs February 7, 2011
Thanks--please let me know if you do.
mrslarkin February 6, 2011
Nicely done, drbabs!! This sounds delicious! Thx!!
drbabs February 7, 2011
Thank you, mrsl!
hardlikearmour February 6, 2011
These look amazing, drbabs!
drbabs February 7, 2011